Thursday, May 05, 2005

John Tavares, 14, Ruled Eligible for OHL Draft

The Ontario Hockey League has reversed an earlier decision and will allow Toronto Marlie minor midget standout John Tavares, 14, to enter the OHL draft this Saturday. Back in March, the OHL's board of governors had the issue on the agenda, but turned down even voting on it during a conference call. The previous age limit prohibited teams from picking players under 15 years old. Tavares turns 15 on Sept. 27, so he was short of the age deadline by over 4 months. This is without precedent in an age where sports stars are making the dive into professional sports younger and younger. Six years ago, Senators Jason Spezza, then 15, was granted permission to play for the Brampton Battalion of the OHL. This was under a clause that allowed under-aged draftees if they played in their hometown. However, this rule will not apply to Tavares. Canadians have been calling for this ruling, in fear that Tavares would jump into the USHL (which has no such age restrictions) and never return for an OHL stint. As a basis for their last-second ruling, the OHL panel interviewed Tavares, his mother, and his midget coach. They concluded he had the maturity to handle the OHL. The panel included Kevin Burkett, a labor arbitrator and longtime hockey coach, Frank Bonello, director of NHL central scouting, and Doug Gilmour, Don Cherry's second favorite player behind Bobby Orr. Another factor that had to play in with the OHL panel was the fact that Tavares played 20 games with the Milton IceHawks of the Provincial Jr. A Hockey League, notching 13 goals and 15 assists in the league with mostly 20-year-olds. And Tavares is six-foot-one and weighs 180 pounds, so size isn't a concern.

The Oshawa Generals have announced that they will select Tavares with their #1 pick in the OHL draft. This comes as no surprise, after he tore up his midget league with 91 goals and 67 assists in 72 games. The OHL draft starts at 9 am Saturday. By the way, Tavares seems to have the right attitude walking into the spotlight:
"I don't want to put too much pressure on myself to turn this team around right away but I expect us to become a winning franchise in the next couple of years. I'm no Sidney Crosby or Bobby Orr, I'm John Tavares. I'm not expecting to score 150 points next year. I'm just coming here to help the team win...I think I'll be fine on the ice. I've already experienced playing with kids a lot older than me, up to 20 years old. I think off the ice, making the transition from my family to living with another family, will be the biggest transition for me."
If you're looking for analysis, check out James Mirtle's take. I have to agree with him of the risk of allowing Tavares to be drafted at 14 and on the road playing hockey with older teenagers. Wayne Gretzky went through a lot of crap as a young superstar, so hopefully Tavares is ready to be targeted with extra checks and can deal with being away from home and tutored rather than in a traditional school. Notes Tavares will not be the youngest player in OHL history: Bobby Orr and Denis Potvin were younger when they started playing in the then OHA (Orr was an Oshawa General, in fact). Also, Eric Lindros played for the Canadian national team when he was 15, and Nathan Horton played Jr. C hockey at 13. Also, people need to stop spelling Sidney Crosby's name wrong. It's not "Sindey Crosby", as TSN has had it, or "Sidney Crosbie", as I just read in a CBC article. We don't have much to talk about in the hockey world with the ongoing NHL lockout, so get these things right! And when you Google "John Tavares" and come up with a lot of lacrosse articles, it's because the Tavares we know shares the name of a National Lacrosse League superstar. So to recap,

John Tavares, lacrosse star and John Tavares, future hockey star.

5 Comments:

At 5/05/2005 10:31:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

I'm surprised his parents are okay with that, his mom especially. Sure he may be ready for it but it's going to be a huge change for the kid and his family. It will definitely be an interesting story to follow, to see whether he makes it to the NHL eventually after starting along the path so early. I think it helps that he's on the 15 side of 14 because I can't see the OHL approving the drafting of a newly-14 year-old kid, not matter how good he is.

 
At 5/06/2005 01:50:00 AM, Anonymous Lisa said...

Ha, so when I was told to google "John Tavares", I DID get many results referring to the lacrosse player. But way at the top, I found On the Wings. :D

Climbing up the ranks I see. ;)

As bright as his future seems, I can't help but think Macaulay Culkin... Think how he's thrown into the "world" extra early...

 
At 5/06/2005 04:06:00 PM, Blogger Michael said...

I'm no expert, but.... he doesn't look 14!!

I think this is shades of Danny Almonte! (i.e. Little League controversy)

 
At 5/19/2005 07:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both John Tavares the hockey player and John Tavares the lacrosse player are uncle and nephew!

 
At 6/20/2005 02:03:00 AM, Anonymous Nathan Sheppard said...

im pretty excited to get to watch this kid develop. i wasnt around when Gretzky started climbing up the ladder so this is something new to me.

however, i cant pay him too much respect, im an 89, so hopefully one of these days ill meet up with that guy on the ice and show him up :P

 

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