John Tavares (ice hockey)

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This article is about the ice hockey player. For his uncle, the lacrosse player, see John Tavares (lacrosse).
John Tavares
John Tavares 2013-05-09.JPG
Tavares with the Islanders during the 2013 playoffs
Born (1990-09-20) September 20, 1990 (age 23)
Mississauga, ON, CAN
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
Position Centre
Shoots Left
NHL team New York Islanders
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 1st overall, 2009
New York Islanders
Playing career 2009–present

John Tavares (born September 20, 1990) is a Canadian professional ice hockey centre who serves as captain for the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected first overall by the Islanders in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Tavares then signed a three-year, entry-level contract in July 2009.[1]

Previously, Tavares competed at the major junior level as a member of the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) before being traded to the London Knights at the 2009 OHL trading deadline with Michael Del Zotto. He broke into the OHL after gaining "exceptional player" status at the age of 14, allowing the Oshawa Generals to select him in the OHL Priority Draft as an underage player in 2005. Tavares was named the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Rookie of the Year in 2006 and CHL Player of the Year in 2007. In 2009, he finished the season with a career total of 215 goals, breaking Peter Lee's OHL record by two.

Tavares was the focus of an unsuccessful push to have the NHL's draft rules changed to allow him to participate in the 2008 Entry Draft, as well as an attempt to allow him to play in the American Hockey League (AHL) as a 17-year-old in 2007. Tavares was ranked as the top prospect for the 2009 draft by both NHL Central Scouting and International Scouting Services.

Tavares has represented Canada at five International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) sanctioned events, including the 2010 and 2011 World Championships. At the under-20 level, he won gold medals at the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. He was named the most valuable player of the 2009 tournament after scoring eight goals and fifteen points in six games. He also participated in the 2006 IIHF World U18 Championships, but failed to medal. Additionally, Tavares represented Canada Ontario at the 2006 World U-17 Hockey Challenge and 2007 Super Series. On January 7, 2014, he was named to the 2014 Canadian Olympic Hockey Team, winning a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics despite an injury preventing him from participating in the team's final two games.

Personal life[edit]

Tavares was born on September 20, 1990 in Mississauga, Ontario, to Barbara and Joe Tavares, who are of Polish and Portuguese descent, respectively. His maternal grandparents Bolesław and Josephine Kowal immigrated from Poland to Sudbury, Ontario, and his paternal grandparents Manuel and Dorotea Tavares immigrated from Portugal to Toronto. At a young age, Tavares moved to Oakville, Ontario. This is where he was first exposed to minor hockey via the Minor Oaks Hockey Association.[2] Tavares also played soccer and lacrosse, and his highly competitive nature often led him to fight with other players.[3] Tavares excelled at lacrosse, following in the footsteps of his uncle John Tavares, the all-time scoring leader in the National Lacrosse League (NLL), and was a ball boy for his uncle's NLL team, the Buffalo Bandits.[4][5] The younger Tavares credits his uncle with teaching him the importance of remaining unselfish, stating that what he learned by following his uncle with the Bandits has made him better both as a person and a hockey player.[6] Many skills he learned in lacrosse—such as spinning off checks and battling in traffic—transferred to ice hockey and improved Tavares' abilities as a goal scorer.[4]

In Oakville, Tavares attended St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School.[5] He lived five minutes from Sam Gagner, who later signed a contract with the Edmonton Oilers, and the two quickly established a friendship.[4] Gagner's father, former National Hockey League (NHL) player Dave Gagner, built a backyard ice rink on which Tavares spent much of his time honing ice hockey skills.[4] In the OHL, Tavares placed an emphasis on his education, earning honours as well as the Oshawa Generals' Scholastic Player of the Year in 2007–08.[6] Tavares also spends some of his time working with the Special Olympics.[7]

Minor and junior hockey[edit]

Tavares played minor ice hockey with the Oakville Rangers of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA).[2] He showed such promise as a hockey player that when he was seven, his parents moved him up one age group and he began playing with older children.[3] From there, he moved on to the Mississauga Braves of the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL). After playing the 1998–99 season with the Braves' novice team, Tavares moved to the Mississauga Senators of the GTHL the following season.[8] With the Senators' AAA minor atom team, Tavares won the GTHL minor atom championship in the 1999–2000 season.[9] Tavares eventually moved to the Toronto Marlboros of the GTHL. During the 2003–04 season Tavares was teammates with Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers. That season, Tavares scored 95 goals and 187 points in ninety games and led the Marlboros' bantam team to the 2004 Bantam AAA Provincial Hockey Championships, where the Marlboros defeated Drew Doughty and the London Jr. Knights 5–0 in the championship game.[10] Tavares scored one goal in the game and was named the tournament's top forward.[10][11] The following season, Tavares joined the Marlboros' minor midget team, where he recorded 91 goals and 158 points in 72 games.[12] For his achievements, Tavares shared the Buck Houle Award with Bryan Cameron, "in recognition of outstanding on ice performance, leadership and loyalty".[13] During this season, he also played 16 games with the Milton Icehawks of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League (OPJHL), during which he recorded 11 goals and 23 points.[14] Tavares' debut with the Icehawks came while he was only thirteen, making him one of the youngest players to ever play junior hockey.[5]

Ontario Hockey League[edit]

Tavares petitioned to gain eligibility to play major junior in the OHL in the spring of 2005. As OHL rules did not allow for players under the age of 15 to be drafted,[14] the league introduced an "exceptional player" clause, allowing the 14-year-old Tavares to be drafted one year sooner than he would otherwise have been eligible.[15] Consequently, Tavares is the youngest player to ever be drafted in the OHL,[16] although Bobby Orr was signed and had played at a younger age.[15] The Canadian Hockey League (CHL), the umbrella organization which governs major junior hockey in Canada, sent a proposal to Hockey Canada, recommending that the rule be expanded across junior hockey, which eventually was granted. To date, only three other players, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid and Sean Day have been granted the same status.[15]

A hockey player, wearing a white Oshawa Generals jersey, stands ready to take a faceoff.
Tavares taking a faceoff

The Oshawa Generals held the first pick in the 2005 draft, and they selected Tavares, earning him the Jack Ferguson Award, which is given to the player picked first overall in the OHL Priority Selection.[17] Tavares played his first OHL game on September 23, 2005, scoring his first OHL goal in a game held just three days after his 15th birthday.[18][19] He showed he could play in the OHL immediately, scoring ten goals in his first nine games with the Generals,[20] and finished the 2005–06 season with 77 points, including 45 goals. Tavares was named to the OHL's all-rookie team, and won both the Emms Family Award and CHL Rookie of the Year awards as the top first-year player in both the OHL and CHL respectively.[21]

A hockey player, wearing a red Oshawa Generals jersey, stands in full gear on ice with stick held across his waist.
Tavares with Oshawa in 2008

As a 16-year-old in 2006–07, Tavares was selected to represent the OHL for two games in January for the annual ADT Canada-Russia Challenge, including one game in Oshawa. Later that month, on January 25, 2007, Tavares registered a 7-point night in a 9-6 win versus the Windsor Spitfires. He scored four goals and three assists, including his 50th goal of the season in his 44th game.[22] Towards the end of the season, on March 16, 2007, Tavares recorded his 70th and 71st goals of the season, breaking Wayne Gretzky's OHL record for most goals by a 16-year-old.[23] He was awarded the Red Tilson Trophy as the most outstanding player in the league, and named the CHL Player of the Year.[21]

Tavares scored 40 goals in 59 games for the Generals during the 2007–08 season, while his 118 points was placed him third in OHL scoring.[24] Tavares led the OHL in scoring until he missed several games to participate with Team Canada at the 2008 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.[25] As Tavares was participating in the 2009 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, it was speculated that the Generals were ready to trade him to the London Knights.[26] Tavares' future with the Generals had been questioned since the beginning of the season as the Generals were not expected to seriously contend for the championship, while the Knights were among the league leaders.[26] The deal was made official on January 8, 2009, as Oshawa sent Tavares, Michael Del Zotto and Darryl Borden to the Knights, in exchange for Scott Valentine, Christian Thomas, Michael Zador and six draft picks.[27]

Tavares made his debut with the Knights on January 11 against the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors.[28] Making his return to Oshawa at the 2009 CHL Top Prospects Game as captain of Team Orr, he recorded an assist in a 6–1 win over Team Cherry, but injured his shoulder after Zack Kassian of the Peterborough Petes checked him behind the net.[29] On March 8, 2009, Tavares set the OHL goal-scoring record with his 214th goal, passing the previous record held by Peter Lee.[30] The next day, he received his third OHL Player of the Week recognition of the season.[31]

National Hockey League[edit]

Although he was born five days after the September 15 cutoff date for eligibility in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, there was a significant effort made to allow Tavares into the draft. Following his 72-goal campaign in 2006–07, Tavares' agents asked the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) to make an exception for Tavares similar to the one the OHL had made in 2005.[32] The attempt was unsuccessful, and Tavares was forced to wait until 2009 to participate in the entry draft.[33] However, in October 2007, it was reported that Toronto Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson, Jr. had offered the 17-year-old Tavares a spot with their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.[34] Like the NHL, the AHL declined to amend its by-laws, and Tavares returned to the OHL.[34]

The NHL International Scouting Services ranked Tavares as the top draft prospect in the world, ahead of defenceman Victor Hedman, Swedish forward Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson, and Canadian forward Matt Duchene in its March 2009 update.[35] The 2009 draft class was led by Tavares, who was taken first overall by the New York Islanders.[36]

New York Islanders[edit]

Tavares during his rookie season with the Islanders

On July 15, 2009, Tavares signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Islanders.[37] Tavares' first NHL game was in the pre-season, against the Edmonton Oilers. Tavares spent 22 minutes and 50 seconds on the ice with linemates Doug Weight and Sean Bergenheim during the Islanders' 3-2 loss.[38] Weight, a veteran NHLer, said that "John’s going to be a big piece of [an Islander rebuilding effort]."[38] Tavares recorded his first career NHL goal and assist in his first ever professional game, scoring on a backhander against Marc-André Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 3, 2009.

Tavares led NHL rookies in scoring throughout much of his first season. In December, 2009, Tavares scored five consecutive Islander goals, over a 4-game span, to tie the club record for most consecutive goals by one player. Tavares scored an empty-net goal vs Atlanta on December 3, and both Islander goals on both December 9 in Philadelphia and December 10 in Toronto. The Islanders were shut out on December 5 in Tampa. The record was originally set by Bryan Trottier, when he scored five consecutive goals in a 1982 game against the Flyers,[39] and was equaled by Mariusz Czerkawski over a three-game span in 1998.[citation needed] At the end of the season Tavares finished second in rookie scoring, behind Matt Duchene, with a total of 54 points.

As New York opened up their season at home against Dallas on October 9, 2010, Tavares suffered a mild concussion late during the first period. The Stars' Adam Burish bumped into Tavares, and he was not able to return.[40] He scored his first career hat-trick on October 23, 2010, in a loss to the Florida Panthers. He scored his second career hat-trick, and first career natural hat-trick, on January 15, 2011, with a win against the Buffalo Sabres.

John Tavares playing with the Islanders

On September 14, 2011, Tavares signed a six-year, $33 million extension with the Islanders. He will become an unrestricted free agent in July 2018. After being held pointless in the first two games of the 2011–12 season, Tavares had back to back four-point games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers. From December 29, 2011, to January 21, 2012, Tavares had 21 points in a 12-game point streak, seven of which were multi-point games. He was selected to play in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. In his first career NHL All-Star game, he recorded one goal and one assist.[41] During the 2011 season Tavares was named as an alternate captain.

During the 2012 NHL Lockout, Tavares played with Mark Streit in Switzerland for SC Bern.

During the shortened 2012-13 NHL season, Tavares was third in the NHL with 28 goals. He helped the Islanders reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007, scoring 47 points in 48 games. Tavares was also named a finalist for the 2013 Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL's most valuable player, on May 10, 2013. Tavares scored his first career NHL playoff goal against Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 3 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He would finish with three goals and five points in six games as the Islanders were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On September 10, 2013, Tavares was introduced as the 14th captain in New York Islanders history, replacing former Islander Mark Streit of the Philadelphia Flyers, who served as team captain since 2011. On February 19, 2014, during the 2014 Winter Olympics, he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) and a torn meniscus in his knee during a game, causing him to miss the remainder of the Olympics as well as the remainder of the Islanders' season. At the time of his injury, Tavares was third in the NHL with 66 points in 59 games.[42]

International play[edit]

Medal record
Ice hockey
Representing  Canada
Olympic Games
Gold 2014 Sochi
World Junior Championships
Gold 2008 Czech Republic
Gold 2009 Canada
Spengler Cup
Gold 2012 Davos

Junior[edit]

During his rookie season in the OHL, Tavares competed for Team Ontario in the 2006 World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Saskatchewan as a 15-year-old, but failed to medal. Later that year, at the end of the 2005–06 OHL season, he was selected to join Team Canada's under-18 team for the 2006 IIHF World U18 Championships in Sweden, but failed to medal once more, falling to the Czechs in the bronze medal game. Later in the off-season, he was invited to the under-18 team's summer training camp to prepare for the 2006 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, though an injury prevented him from playing.[43]

During the following season, Tavares was invited to Canada's national junior selection camp for the 2007 World Junior Championships, but was not named to the final team.[44] After completing his second OHL season however, he was named to the Canada's under-20 team for the 2007 Super Series against Russia. Tavares scored 4 goals and 1 assist as Canada won the series 7–0–1.

He earned another invite to the selection camp for the 2008 World Junior Championships and made the final roster for the tournament on his second attempt.[25] Tavares scored 4 goals to help Canada to its fourth straight gold medal. Returning the next year with Zach Boychuk, P. K. Subban and Thomas Hickey from the previous year's gold medal winning team, Tavares was selected to compete in the 2009 World Junior Championships in Ottawa. He scored three points in the first round-robin game against the Czech Republic, an 8–1 win, and was named player of the game.[45] In the final round-robin game against the United States, Tavares scored a hat trick for his twelfth career goal of the tournament to tie Eric Lindros and Jeff Carter for the all-time Canadian junior record.[46] In doing so, he helped propel Team Canada to a 7–4 win that gave them the top spot in their pool, and a bye to the semi-final. He was also named player of the game for the second time in the tournament.[47] Meeting Russia in the semi-final and down 5–4 with less than 10 seconds left in regulation, Tavares fought off 2 Russian players along the boards and backhanded a shot towards the goal. The shot was blocked by defenseman Dmitri Kulikov a few feet in front of the net, but the puck came loose, teammate Jordan Eberle retrieved it, and sent it into the right side of the net to dramatically tie the game with 5.4 seconds left. Then, as the game was forced into a shootout, Tavares scored to put Canada up 2–0 in the tie-breaker and into the gold medal game against Sweden. Recording an assist in the final, he helped Canada defeat Sweden 5–1 to capture their fifth straight gold medal. Tavares finished the tournament with 8 goals and 7 assists for 15 points in 6 games, second to Cody Hodgson in tournament scoring. He was named one of the top three players on Team Canada by the coaching staff,[48] as well as a tournament All-Star, Top Forward and MVP.[49]

Senior[edit]

Tavares as a member of the Canadian ice hockey team during the 2012 Spengler Cup

As the New York Islanders failed to qualify for the playoffs in Tavares' rookie season in the NHL, he was selected to the Canadian men's team for the 2010 World Championships in Germany. General manager Mark Messier made a specific effort to assemble a young team;[50] as a result, Tavares was one of five teenagers on the roster.[51] With seven goals in seven games, Tavares led all tournament players in goal-scoring. Despite recording no assists, he ranked fifth in points.[52] He helped Canada to the quarterfinal against Russia, where they were defeated 5–2.[53]

The following year, Tavares returned to the national team for the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia. He improved to nine points over seven games with five goals and four assists to lead Canada in scoring; he ranked fifth among all tournament players for the second consecutive year.[54] As Canada again reached the quarterfinal, they were eliminated once more by Russia, losing 2–1.[55] Tavares was chosen by coaches as one of the three best players on Team Canada, along with defenceman Alex Pietrangelo and forward Andrew Ladd.[56]

Tavares, played for the SC Bern during the 2012 NHL lockout and quickly became the PostFinance Top Scorer tallying 42 points (17G) in 28 games. He also played for Team Canada at the 2012 Spengler Cup.

At the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tavares injured his knee in Canada's quarterfinal match rendering him unable to play for the remainder of the tournament.[42]

Playing style[edit]

Tavares has been praised by his coaches for his ability to anticipate the play since he joined the OHL.[57] A lack of speed had been the most common criticism of Tavares' play, something he spent his junior career attempting to improve. Tavares' skating speed is something he greatly improved since going pro, and his speed is no longer an issue on the ice.

The media hype he has encountered has led Tavares to remain guarded when speaking to the media, while his teammates and family attempt to shield him from the spotlight where they can.[33] However, Tavares is regarded as a natural leader on the ice, and a player who puts his team first.[6] The Generals named Tavares their team captain in 2008, while he also served as the alternate captain with the national junior team in 2009.[7]

Awards[edit]

Career statistics[edit]

Tavares in 2009 with the New York Islanders

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2004–05 Toronto Marlboros GTHL 72 91 67 158
2004–05 Milton Icehawks OPJHL 20 13 15 28 10
2005–06 Oshawa Generals OHL 65 45 32 77 72
2006–07 Oshawa Generals OHL 67 72 62 134 60 9 7 12 19 6
2007–08 Oshawa Generals OHL 59 40 78 118 69 15 3 13 16 20
2008–09 Oshawa Generals OHL 32 26 28 54 32
2008–09 London Knights OHL 24 32 18 50 22 14 10 11 21 8
2009–10 New York Islanders NHL 82 24 30 54 22
2010–11 New York Islanders NHL 79 29 38 67 53
2011–12 New York Islanders NHL 82 31 50 81 26
2012–13 SC Bern NLA 28 17 25 42 28
2012–13 New York Islanders NHL 48 28 19 47 18 6 3 2 5 4
2013–14 New York Islanders NHL 59 24 42 66 40
NHL totals 350 136 179 315 159 6 3 2 5 4

International[edit]

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2006 Canada U18 4th 7 2 3 5 4
2007 Canada SS Gold medal icon.svg 8 1 8 9 26
2008 Canada WJC Gold medal icon.svg 7 4 1 5 2
2009 Canada WJC Gold medal icon.svg 6 8 7 15 0
2010 Canada WC 7th 7 7 0 7 6
2011 Canada WC 5th 7 5 4 9 12
2012 Canada WC 5th 8 4 5 9 12
2014 Canada Oly Gold medal icon.svg 4 0 0 0 0
Junior totals 28 15 19 34 32
Senior totals 26 16 9 25 30

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Alexander Radulov
CHL Player of the Year
2007
Succeeded by
Justin Azevedo
Preceded by
Steven Stamkos
NHL first overall draft pick
2009
Succeeded by
Taylor Hall
Preceded by
Josh Bailey
New York Islanders first round pick
2009
Succeeded by
Calvin de Haan
Preceded by
Steve Mason
World Junior MVP
2009
Succeeded by
Jordan Eberle
Preceded by
Viktor Tikhonov
World Junior Best Forward
2009
Succeeded by
Jordan Eberle
Preceded by
Mark Streit
New York Islanders captain
2013–present
Incumbent