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Tavares OK with playing wing for Canada

John Tavares is open to playing on the wing for Canada at the Winter Olympics

Saturday, 01.18.2014 / 1:50 PM / News
By John Kreiser  - NHL.com Columnist
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Tavares OK with playing wing for Canada
John Tavares is open to playing on the wing for Canada at the Winter Olympics.
John Tavares poses in his Team Canada jersey for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Though John Tavares has spent his entire NHL career as a center, the New York Islanders captain knows there's no guarantee he'll be in the middle when he takes the ice for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics next month.

And he's OK with that.

Canada is loaded with talent down the middle, including Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Ryan Getzlaf. That could result in Tavares spending his time in Sochi on left wing, though he said this week he "hasn't heard anything" about his ultimate position.

"Really, the only thing I know is from the camp in the summertime, they had me at center," he said. "They talked to me about playing the wing and being versatile. I know there’s a possibility being in a different spot than I’m accustomed to.”

Tavares said the time he spent playing in Switzerland during the NHL lockout gave him some exposure to life as a left wing, as well as experience in playing on the larger Olympic-sized ice surface.

"I guess the one benefit I took out of the lockout last year is I played about 90 percent of the games in Switzerland on left wing," he said. "I’ve played there before on the big ice with Canada as well internationally, so I have some experience over there, and I think a lot of the adjustment for me is just make sure I'm always trying to keep my feet moving. I don't want to be standing still and getting caught flat-footed.

"Being a centerman, you always seem to be moving. When you make that adjustment, that's the biggest thing. Sometimes you feel like you can be a little flat-footed at times."

There have been rumors Tavares could end up on the left side of Anaheim Ducks linemates Getzlaf and Corey Perry, a prospect he said would be exciting.

"Those are two exceptional players," he said. "They’ve accomplished almost everything you can do in this game and are having great seasons. It would be a lot of fun playing with those guys."

Just being part of the Olympics is a thrill for Tavares, who said he has memories of watching Canada win the gold medal in Salt Lake City in 2002 and in Vancouver in 2010.

Of 2002, he remembered, "I was with all my minor hockey teammates; I was with the Mississauga Senators at that time. I remember all of us cheering and going crazy, especially when Joe Sakic iced it with the empty-netter."

Eight years later, Tavares was an NHL rookie watching the gold-medal game with linemate and fellow Canadian Matt Moulson at the home of teammate Doug Weight, a three-time U.S. Olympian.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 46 21 24 -2 45
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 46 8 25 16 33
B. Nelson 46 15 15 6 30
F. Nielsen 46 9 16 4 25
J. Boychuk 36 4 18 15 22
J. Bailey 34 8 13 8 21
N. Leddy 46 7 14 15 21
N. Kulemin 46 11 9 1 20
A. Lee 40 13 5 7 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 25 9 0 .910 2.41
C. Johnson 6 5 0 .870 3.38

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