THN: John Tavares - Five Star General

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"The Hockey News" beschäftigt sich mit dem 16-jährigen Super-Talent John Tavares:



Five Star General

By Mike Brophy

One year ago there were many who thought

that John Tavares, at barely 15, was simply too young to withstand the rigors

of major junior hockey and the lifestyle that accompanies it; that he was being

pushed along too quickly and that it would cause irreparable damage to his

career.

Now there are those who are convinced the 6-foot-1, 190-pound center will very

soon be too good for the Ontario League.

Tavares has been tabbed as the next great player, following in the footsteps of

Wayne Gretzky, Eric Lindros and Sidney Crosby.

“I think he has a lot of Sidney Crosby in him in that when you see him score,

he makes it look so easy,” said Peterborough Petes GM Jeff Twohey. “When

Lindros played, you couldn’t wait for him to be out of the league because he

was so powerful, your players couldn’t contain him. This kid (Tavares), you

can’t wait for him to leave because he just keeps getting better. He is very

driven.”

The comparisons to the likes of Crosby and Lindros continue to follow Tavares,

but he will never, unlike them, be able to say that he played in the World

Junior Championship as a 16-year-old.Had he made the Canadian team that won

gold in Sweden, he would have joined a group that includes just five other players

– Gretzky, Lindros, Crosby, Jay Bouwmeester and Jason Spezza – who played in

the WJC as 16-year-olds. In fact, he would have been the second-youngest to

play for Canada,

losing out to Bouwmeester by seven days.

That he was unable to do so devastated him. When Canadian coach Craig Hartsburg

called him, it marked the first time – maybe the only time – in his life that

he had ever been cut from a team.

And it was deep. It was 7:40 a.m. and Tavares, who hadn’t slept much the night

before, thought he may be in the clear. Although he didn’t feel he had played

as well as he could at Team Canada’s

training camp, he thought the coaches might look past that and put him on the

team anyway, based on what he had accomplished over the past year-and-a-half.


Then the phone rang.

“As coach Hartsburg told me I wasn’t on the team, I tried to hold it inside,

but I couldn’t…I just burst into tears,” Tavares says. “I put a lot of pressure

on myself to make that team, so I was so disappointed.”


And how did Tavares respond?

For starters, he watched every Canadian game in the tournament, imaging himself

playing for next year’s squad, and used his dismissal as motivation upon

rejoining his OHL team, the Oshawa Generals.

He scored 23 goals and 43 points in his next 17 games. That included two

four-goal games (and he added a shootout winner in one of those contests) and a

seven-point evening. Through Feb. 1, Tavares was riding a 12-game scoring

streak in which he had 39 points.

Nobody has ever doubted Tavares’s ability. Two years ago when he split time

between the Toronto Marlboro midgets and Jr. A Milton IceHawks, it was

abundantly clear he was a special player. So special, in fact, the Canadian

Hockey League altered its rules to allow the then-14-year-old prospect to

become eligible for the OHL draft. The CHL made him the first player in its

history to gain ‘exceptional player’ status. The Generals, who have seen their

share of young phenoms pass through, notably Bobby Orr and Lindros, chose

Tavares first overall and he repaid them with a 45-goal, 77-point season en

route to winning the OHL’s and CHL’s rookie-of-the-year honors.

This season, Tavares has been the best player in the OHL, leading all scorers

with 52 goals and 98 points in just 46 games. What makes him so unique, aside

from his obvious talent, is that he won’t be eligible for the NHL draft until

2009 because he was born Sept. 20. If he had been born on Sept. 15 or earlier,

he’d be draft-eligible in 2008.


To read the rest of this story and other great features from the world of

hockey, you can buy this issue

http://www.zinio.com/singles?issn=0018-3016U&ns=zno

or subscribe at


https://secure.indas.on.ca/care/hnc/digital.php?key=W06LDN73


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