It’s been eight long years since the London Knights loaned more than a single player to Team Canada for the annual world junior tournament.
Starting Monday, as he dresses for Team OHL in the Canada-Russia Super Series’ stop in Sarnia, Seth Griffith is determined to put an end to that streak.
“I’m going to go out there and try to put myself in a good position to make the team,” he said of the high-profile tryout.
Griffith, a consummate team player, is tops in scoring on the Knights once again, notching 31 points in 20 games. The 19-year-old from Wallaceburg finished last season with a team-leading 85, which piggy-backed off the 62 he registered in 2010-11, his first full OHL season.
There’s no doubt Griffith has what it takes to be a game-changer at the club team level. He’s the first guy to get a tap on the shoulder from London bench boss Dale Hunter when the team needs an offensive lift.
But are his numbers and pedigree enough to make a national team contending on the grandest junior hockey stage of all?
“He’s got a talent for putting the puck in the net. (Monday’s game) is huge for everybody, but I know Seth is looking forward to it a lot,” said Scott Harrington, Griffith’s captain and lone returning player to Team Canada from the Knights.
Depending on how you look at it, Griffith is at a slight advantage over some of his competitors. A rival head coach/general manager, Steve Spott, has a large say in the Canuck roster selection process.
Spott sees Griffith and Harrington strut their stuff six times a year when his Kitchener Rangers battle London. He knows their potential, the intricacies in their games that don’t show up on the scoresheet.
Then again, Harrington believes no spot is secure until the final roster has been announced.
“Team Canada is going to ice the team they feel is going to give them the best chance to win, so it’s important for everybody to show what you can give,” said the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect.
An unfortunate reality for Griffith, in particular, is the NHL lockout’s affect on the process.
It has amplified Canada’s world junior talent pool, with the likes of Mark Scheifele and Ryan Strome, for instance, still around. Both would likely be in the middle of their first pro season if it were not for a work stoppage.
Last five Knights to dress for Canada at world juniors
- Scott Harrington (2012)
- Nazem Kadri (2010)*
- David Bolland (2006)
- Danny Syvret (2005)
- Corey Perry (2005)
* — Also a London native