- London Nationals
----Hockey team |CAN_eng = 1
team = London Nationals
league = Ontario Hockey Association
operated = 1965-1968
Toronto Maple Leafs
name1 = London Nationals
dates1 = 1965-1968
dates2 = 1968-PresentThe London Nationals were a junior
ice hockeyteam in the Ontario Hockey Association, who played for three seasons before being renamed to the London Knights. The team played out of the London Gardensin London, Ontario, Canada.
The London Nationals were granted a franchise in the OHA for the 1965-66 season under the ownership of the
Toronto Maple Leafs. Upon the collapse of the Metro Junior A Leaguein 1963, the Leafs were left with only one sponsored OHA team with which to place their prospects. They wanted a team in London to replace the old Toronto St. Michael's Majors, who had folded a couple years previous. The Leafs originally wanted the Nationals to begin play in 1963-64, but it wasn't until a year later that the Nats became the Leafs' second team, joining the Toronto Marlboros. Prior to 1965, the Nationals had played in the Western Junior B league, and had won the championship there in 1952, 1964 and 1965.
The Nationals were named for their sponsor the Canadian National Recreation Association, an organization of
Canadian National Railwaysemployees, and took their uniforms as copies of those of the Maple Leafs, except for the words "London Nationals" spelled out on the Leaf instead of the familiar Toronto Maple Leafs script.
Brian Murphy played the most games for the Nationals, 98 in total over three seasons. Garry Unger lead the team in career goals with 42 in only 50 games. Walt McKechnie was their all-time point leader with 26 goals, and 74 assists, totalling 100 points.
After three seasons, direct NHL sponsorship of junior teams ended. The team was sold by the Leafs to businessman
Howard Darwin, who renamed the team to the Knights and changed the colours to green and gold.
The London Nationals were coached by
Jack McIntyrefor the 1965-66 season. For their second and third seasons from 1966-68, the Nationals were coached by Hockey Hall of Famegoaltender Turk Broda.
Darryl Sittler played 54 games for the London Nationals during the 1967-68 season, scoring 22 goals and 41 assists as a rookie. He later played 15 NHL seasons from 1970 to 1985, and was inducted into the
Hockey Hall of Famein 1989.
List of alumni who also played in the
National Hockey League. [ [http://www.legendsofhockey.net:8080/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/SearchPlayersByTeam.jsp?team=London+Nationals www.legendsofhockey.net] ]
*1965-66 Out of playoffs.
*1966-67 Lost to Niagara Falls Flyers 8 points to 4 in quarterfinals.
*1967-68 Lost to Hamilton Red Wings 8 points to 2 in quarterfinals.
The Nationals played their home games at the
London Gardensfor three seasons, which was also briefly known as the Treasure Island Gardens during their residency there.
:Capacity = 5,075:Ice Size = 190' X 85'
* [http://www.ohlarenaguide.com/ldngardens.htm London Gardens] The OHL Arena & Travel Guide
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