Tavares to have number retired in Oshawa

Islanders captain John Tavares will have his number, 91, retired by his junior club, the Oshawa Generals.

Friday, 08.1.2014 / 11:00 AM ET / News
By Cory Wright
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Tavares to have number retired in Oshawa
Islanders captain John Tavares will have his number, 91, retired by his junior club, the Oshawa Generals.

Retiring a sweater number is one of hockey’s highest honors, reserved for the best of the best and for players who impacted a city both on-and-off the ice.

Three banners hang from the rafters of General Motors Centre in Oshawa, Ontario; one belongs to eight-time Norris winner and two-time scoring champion Bobby Orr, another to 1995 MVP Eric Lindros and a third to Red Tilson, who lends his name to the trophy for the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player. Orr’s (junior) number two, Lindros’ 88 and Tilson’s nine will never be worn by another Oshawa General.

On Sept. 28, a fourth banner will be raised, this one inscribed with the number “91.” Islanders captain John Tavares will be honored in a pregame ceremony, as his number is officially retired by his junior club.

“To be up there with the three other guys that are there… it’s hard to really believe it,” Tavares said. “It’s something I’ll be pinching myself about for a long time. I really appreciate that people believe that I am a part of such a great history like that.”

Tavares was humbled by the honor, but it’s well-deserved. The Islanders captain was granted “exceptional player” status (now nicknamed the “John Tavares rule”) allowing him to play for the Generals as a 15-year-old. The young Tavares took the league by storm, scoring 383 points (183G, 200A) in 223 games with the Generals.

Tavares made history while wearing the Generals crest, becoming the team’s all-time leading goal scorer and finishing second on the all-time points list. Had Tavares not been traded to the London Knights in his final season with the team – where he scored 50 points in 24 games for the Knights – he likely would have also claimed the all-time points lead.

“John was one of the greatest junior players to ever play the game, not only for Oshawa, but in the Canadian Hockey League,” said Oshawa Generals Owner, Rocco Tullio. “He’s represented the organization and the CHL extremely well on and off the ice. People in Oshawa have always respected John and his family because he’s always worked extremely hard.”

At 15, Tavares was the youngest player in the league and had to deal with added media scrutiny in addition to the prerequisite chaos of uprooting oneself from home and playing a demanding OHL schedule. It started a path that led him to being an Islander and set him up for his future success, but those were also formative years for Tavares as a person.

“My time in Oshawa really changed my life,” he said. “There’s a saying on the wall in the locker room, ‘Once a General, Always a General,’ and it really stays true especially with how much time I spent there, what the city meant to me and all of the people that impacted my life. I’ll be forever grateful for what that place has done for me and it certainly became home and is home to me.”

Tavares still attends charity events and keeps in touch with former coaches, his billet family and other members of the Generals organization. When he was traded from the Generals in 2009, he told the Canadian Press that his heart would always be in Oshawa.

His heart and, now, his sweater too.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
5 PIT 77 42 24 11 211 194 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 PHI 77 31 29 17 202 220 79
12 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 78 29 43 6 204 249 64
16 BUF 77 22 47 8 152 258 52

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
M. Neuvirth 1 3 1 .881 2.94

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