Monday, September 3, 2007

Boys Should Be Boys, Not Men

The boy becomes a man in 17 days. Well a man according to the Canadian Government. Although he is still unable to buy cigarettes and alcohol in the province of Ontario where he is employed as one of the biggest names, if not the biggest name in the Ontario Hockey League. After two seasons John Tavares wants to be eligible for the NHL Draft at the end of the NHL 07-08 season. The only problem is that he is 5 days to late to be eligible for the NHL draft. That and the fact that he began his OHL career at the age of 15.

If unaware with the circumstances around John Tavares, he was a special exemption into the OHL based on the fact that he was such a dominant figure playing Midget AAA. In his final year Tavares had 158 points with the Toronto Marlboro’s and finished with the

 Milton Merchants with another 28 points in the final 20 games. That is a pretty good year. I recall when they first started talking about him I said it would not be a good idea for him to be allowed to play in the OHL. But then again they did a good thing when they brought Tavares in. They said he has to play his 5 years in the OHL, no matter what club he is with. Although who would be stupid enough to trade the kid, it would be like trading Wayne Gretzky… oh wait some G.M.’s did that. How long did Mike Keenan stay in St. Louis after he traded Gretzky to the New York Rangers?

Back to the issue, Tavares is only 17 years old and he is not eligible till the 09 draft. That is how it should be. He should not be allowed to be in this draft just because he has some lawyers and a lot of potential. Yes he is setting the new General Motors Arena in Oshawa on fire. But other than personal accomplishments what has he done in his two years in Generals white and red? Has the Oshawa Generals defended their OHL crown? Have they won the OHL title in 1 of the 2 years? Have they been Eastern Conference Champions? Have they won the Eastern Conference’s Eastern Division Title? Have they made the playoffs? Well that is the only question that the answer is yes. I am not taking anything away from the kid because his personal numbers show that he is a force to reckon with being 6’ and around 190lbs. he is a big boy, shades of an Eric Lindros only he can skate with his head up.

Tavares racked up 45 goals and 77 points in his first season. Tavares was also -13 and had 72 PIM. I will never say anything bad about having PIM because as a Canadian born hockey player you should be well versed in scoring goals as much as dishing out punishment. Take a look at Mike Richards when he was with the Kitchener Rangers. Or even Evan McGrath, the same style of play with a pair of hands to slide the puck behind the goalie in an instant. Usually the London Knights goaltender, which was very annoying if you are a Knights fan and you, always placed a nice wager on blanking the Rangers.

Tavares undoubtedly had a coming out party in 06-07 when he recorded 72 goals and 134 points and being a +25 mark with 60 PIM. I got a chance to see him come to Mississauga and play, he is very good, even when he isn’t scoring goals he is a threat and a great presence on the ice. But no matter how good Tavares is the 17-year-old kid from Oakville is only a kid. Transitioning from the OHL, WHL, QMJHL or NCAA to the NHL is a huge transition and not everyone is ready for it. You can have all the skill in the world but it doesn’t mean it will translate into success. Alexandre Daigle anyone? How about Dan Blackburn? How many times have there been young kids rushed to make a buck and have killed themselves. Blackburn is now doing who knows what after completely tearing his shoulder up and Daigle, well you try to explain that one. There are two quick examples of kids who came in two fast and have done nothing but fizzle out.

Tavares was signed with the idea that the Oshawa Generals would have him for 4 full seasons, well probably more like 3.5 if a team needs a guy like him for the final push. He will probably end with a Guelph Storm, London Knight, Kitchener Ranger or Barrie Colts uniform on but he should not be allowed to make the jump to the NHL. He was signed as an ‘Exceptional Player’ and just because he has that label does not enable him to become one in the NHL. It is a tough playground when you’re just a kid. Think of all the bullies who do that for a living.

I am looking forward to seeing you in a Generals jersey for a few more years as I pay only $15 in Mississauga to boo the shit out of you. Too bad the St. Michael Majors of Toronto moved in to Mississauga. Bring back the IceDogs!

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