THN: John Tavares - Five Star General
Titelstory der neuesten Ausgabe der nordamerikanschen Fachzeitschrift
"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
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
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.
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