The London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League have produce literally hundreds of National Hockey League players since their inception as the London Nationals for the 1965-66 season. Countless others have gone on to play professionally in the lower North American leagues (AHL, ECHL, CHL, IHL, etc.) and in Europe. Of all these players, the Knights to date have selected just five players deemed great enough to have their jersey numbers retired and raised to the rafters of the John Labatt Centre.
The number 5 has been taken out of circulation by the London Knights in honour of Rob Ramage. Ramage played three seasons for the Knights from 1975-76 to 1977-78. Ramage, along with teammate Brad Marsh, were co-winners of the Max Kaminsky Trophy in 1977-78 as the top defensemen in the Ontario Hockey League.
After playing a season in the World Hockey Association with the Birmingham Bulls in 1978-79, Ramage entered the NHL Entry Draft and was chosen first overall by the Colorado Rockies. Rob went on to play parts of fifteen seasons in the NHL with the Rockies, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota North Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers. He won two Stanley Cups during his NHL career, one with Calgary and one with Montreal.
Number 8 sits near the roof of the JLC in honour of Dino Ciccarelli. Dino played four seasons with the Knights from 1976-77 to 1979-80. His 169 goals in a Knights jersey still stand as a team career record.
Although undrafted by an NHL team, Ciccarelli managed nineteen seasons in the league with the Minnesota North Stars, Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. Dino’s 608 career NHL goals are the most by an undrafted player. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010 and is one of only two London Knights to have that honour.
Darryl Sittler wore number 27 throughout his NHL career but it’s the number 9 he wore with the London Nationals / Knights that has been retired by the club. Darryl played three seasons with the franchise from 1967-68 to 1969-70, one as a National and two as a Knight. Sittler was the eighth overall pick at the 1970 NHL Entry Draft, going to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Sittler had a stellar NHL career that spanned from 1970-71 to 1984-85. Although his greatest days in the NHL were spent with the Maple Leafs, Darryl played with the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings as well. Sittler was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989 and, along with Ciccarelli, is one of only two Knights in the Hall.
Recently retired Brendan Shanahan is the owner of number 19 hanging from the ceiling at the JLC. Shanahan played two seasons with the Knights, 1985-86 and 1986-87. Brendan was the second overall pick, behind Pierre Turgeon, in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, going to the New Jersey Devils.
Shanahan went on to a 21 year NHL career that began and ended with the Devils. Along the way, Brendan also played for the St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers. With the Red Wings, Shanahan won three Stanley Cups. He finished his NHL career with 656 regular season goals, the eleventh highest in NHL history. Shanahan is a virtually guaranteed to be the third London Knight to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Rounding out the five retired numbers is the 22 belonging to Brad Marsh. Brad played parts of five seasons with the Knights from 1973-74 to 1977-78. As mentioned above, he was the co-winner of the Max Kaminsky Trophy, along with teammate Rob Ramage, in 1977-78 as the top defensemen in the league.
Marsh was the eleventh overall pick of the Atlanta Flames in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft. Brad played with the Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators over his fifteen year NHL career.