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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.

Friday, 08.01.2014 / 11:00 AM / 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 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 64 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 64 14 27 22 41
B. Nelson 64 17 19 7 36
F. Nielsen 64 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 58 20 13 13 33
J. Bailey 52 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 54 7 23 16 30
N. Leddy 64 8 18 15 26
T. Hamonic 54 4 21 15 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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