What's buzzing:

Buzzing The Net

London Knights’ long layoff before Memorial Cup: how does it stack up in recent CHL history?

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

View photo

.

Playing hurt, Max Domi set up a crucial goal to keep London in Friday's game (OHL Images)

The number on goalie Jake Patterson's back was hugely symbolic. Thirty-five. As in the number of days before the London Knights' next game — the opener of the Memorial Cup on May 16.

For the sixth season in a row, the Cup hosts will enter through the much-maligned, oft-loathed 'back door' after the Knights' 5-4 loss Friday to the high-octane, healthier Guelph Storm, whose five-game Western Conference semifinal win assured the OHL of a new champion this spring. Some might try to make a case that the long stretch since a Cup host actually won its league title embodies a problem for the Canadian Hockey League, but if the CHL doesn't mind while it's wading in its deeper revenue stream, then well, life's too short to inveigh against the trend.

The Storm, which pulled out of bidding to host once it became apparent London with its 9,046-seat arena was a slam-dunk preferred destination, went ahead for good late in the second period after Winnipeg Jets prospect Scott Kosmachuk banked a shot in off Patterson. That was just the last in a series of unfortunate events that encumbered London in the series. The combo of a stacked Midwest Division all playing in the same division and the league's playoff format meant a pair of the OHL's three 100-points teams met in the second round instead of, say, the conference final or championship. London also had star Max Domi playing hurt, goalie Anthony Stolarz suspended for stick-swinging and its two most seasoned defenceman out of action (Zach Bell with a broken fibula, Brady Austin with mononucleosis). Concurrently, though, the Storm persevered despite the fact its nominee for the OHL most outstanding player award, Brock McGinn, was also suspended.

Those are the extenuating circumstances, but some schadenfreude should be indulged. The Knights, on some level, probably know that is the cross to bear for being a dominant franchise. Being off for five weeks might not even be a fail; it's a credit to the Storm and a mark against the league's playoff format.

Guelph will face Erie in the Western Conference final, beginning April 17.

Two seasons ago, London won its way into the Memorial Cup and lost the final in overtime to the host Shawinigan Cataractes, which had a month off after also losing a second-round series. Any grumbling from the time about having a team that didn't even reach its league semifinal hoist the Memorial Cup as Canada's major junior hockey champion after beating London in a best-of-one final looks rather shortsighted.

The CHL has found that the best business model for the Memorial Cup is to run a 10-day, four-team tournament with a host team in order to help with ticket sales. It's far from perfect, and makes the tournament less meritocratic than many would ideally prefer. When it comes to hosts who went out of the playoffs early over the past two decades, the Knights actually rank somewhere in the middle.

Days off Team Year Result
51 Saskatoon Blades (WHL) 2013 Lost tiebreaker
48 Regina Pats (WHL) 2001 Lost semifinal
40 Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) 2000 Lost semifinal
36 Guelph Storm (OHL) 2002 Lost tiebreaker
Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) 2003 Ousted in round-robin
35 London Knights (OHL) 2014 ?
Ottawa 67's (OHL) 1999 Won Memorial Cup
31 Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL) 2012 Won Memorial Cup
23 Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL) 2009 Lost tiebreaker
21 Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) 2010 Lost final
18 Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 2004 Won Memorial Cup

Many an early exiting host team has come back completely renewed for the Memorial Cup. The tournament is a sprint compared to the Tough Mudder course that is league playoffs. It would not be a shock if this is buoys London's hopes of winning the CHL's biggest prize.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

View Comments (2)
  • Older men who exercise more have better erectile function

    Men who exercise more have better erectile and sexual function, suggests a small study of older overweight men. The authors say their results support the idea that exercise might one day be prescribed as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. While … More »

    Reuters - 15 minutes ago
  • Brazil NGO declines contract to clean up dirty Olympic bay

    Rio de Janeiro's pledge to clean up the blighted waters where the 2016 Olympic sailing events are to be held has suffered another setback: A prominent Brazilian sailing and environmental organization declined a city contract to help clean up sewage- … More »

    AP - Sports - 19 minutes ago
  • Hutchison 3 shutout innings as Blue Jays top Red Sox 9-7

    FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- Drew Hutchison tuned up for his opening-day start at Yankee Stadium next week by pitching three scoreless innings Wednesday in the Toronto Blue Jays' 9-7 win over a Boston Red Sox split squad. … More »

    AP - Sports - 20 minutes ago
  • Marlins touch up Nats' Zimmermann for 8 runs in 8-0 romp

    Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-run homer and Mike Morse had a three-run shot as the Miami Marlins roughed up Jordan Zimmermann in an 8-0 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday. Morse connected in the first and Stanton sent a drive onto the … More »

    AP - Sports - 21 minutes ago
  • AP Source: Kings to sign 1st NBA player of Indian descent

    AP Source: Kings to sign 1st NBA player of Indian descent

    Sim Bhullar and the Sacramento Kings are about to make NBA history. The Kings are signing Bhullar to a 10-day contract that will make him the league's first player of Indian descent, a person with knowledge of the deal said Wednesday. The person … More »

    AP - Sports - 25 minutes ago