Denice Pepe, Western Journalism Studio
Feb 4, 2022
When you walk into the London Knights dressing room, you’d find everything you’d expect to see in a major junior hockey team locker room: team portraits, signed jerseys, a shelf full of trophies… and this sign (pictured above).
“I’m not too sure when the rivalry started… but it’s a damn good one,” says Knights Assistant Coach Rick Steadman.
The sign, as absurd as it seems, plays a bigger part in the nuanced relationship between the Knights and the Otters.
The sign originated from the team’s front office, where Steadman fished it out of a binder while looking for some paperwork.
“I remember the game we brought we used this sign in… it was game five of a playoff series versus the Erie Otters in 2016,” Steadman explains.
Since being found, the poster has now found a home on the Knight’s bus and in the locker room.
“It’s funny to look at, especially when we’re up against the otters,” says Knights over-ager Cody Morgan.
Morgan – who was acquired by the Knights in a trade with Flint Firebirds – has heard stories about the rivalry between the two teams and never imagined what it would be like to live it.
“The Bud [Budweiser Gardens] is always so energetic for games [versus the Otters]. The game itself is usually very fast paced and physical – I finally understand why there’s so much animosity between the teams… all in good fun, of course,” explains Morgan.
The sign itself is just one piece of many light-hearted jokes the teams have shared over the years. With the rise in social media, fans now get to see and become involved with Twitter wars between the teams.
Perhaps the most infamous aspect of the rivalry: Sweet Caroline.
The story stems from Knights General Manager, Mark Hunter, who listens to the classic Neil Diamond song every gameday, according to Steadman.
The song famously plays at the ten-minute time out in the third period of every Knights home game, where fans sing along to the tune.
“We got pretty annoyed with it after a certain point and just started mocking it,” says former Otters Defenceman and current statistical analyst, Brendan Kischnick says.
“We were losing pretty badly and the song just kept mocking us, so we remixed it the only way we knew how” continues Kishcnick.
The remix, where Otters fans substitute the iconic chorus with “London Sucks” is now painted on the back of the Otters bus.
One thing both teams can agree on is the high calibre and quality of hockey that is played when the two teams face off.