On Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, a very special ceremony was held to honour John Tavares, who had his jersey number, 91 retired with the Oshawa Generals.
John was joined by his family, girlfriend, Generals President, Rocco Tullio and family, Generals General Manager, Roger Hunt, his former coach, Chris DiPiero, and David Branch, Commissioner of the OHL for the ceremony. Tavares made an emotional speech which highlighted all of the reasons he was thankful to play for the Generals. The speech was passionate and genuine and demonstrated Tavares’ feelings about the night in the most eloquent way possible. He finished his speech with the most fitting sentiment for the evening – “Once a General, always a General.” To watch a video of John’s speech, click here.
Tavares was selected first overall by the Generals in the 2005 OHL Priority Selection, becoming the first ever player to be granted exceptional player status. This allowed John to be eligible to play in the league at the age of 15. Tavares captured the Emms Family Trophy as OHL Rookie of the Year and also earned CHL Rookie of the Year honours in his first season with 77 points including 45 goals in 65 games.
The next season, Tavares earned the OHL’s Red Tilson Trophy for Most Outstanding Player of the Year and also earned CHL Player of the Year with 132 points on a league-leading 72 goals in 67 games breaking Wayne Gretzky’s OHL record for most goals scored by a 16-year-old player. Tavares went on to win the OHL’s scoring title earning the Eddie Powers Trophy during his final season, 2008-09, with 104 points including 58 goals and 48 assists in 56 games.
It was during his final OHL season where he surpassed Peter Lee to become the OHL’s all-time goal scoring leader with 215 career goals in 247 games finishing his four-year OHL career with 437 points. Internationally, Tavares also represented Canada at the 2008 and 2009 IIHF World Junior Championships winning back-to-back gold medals and earning Top Forward and MVP honours in 2009.
Tavares was selected first overall by the New York Islanders in the 2009 NHL Draft and has played in 350 career games with 315 points in his first five years in the NHL. He is now the captain of the New York Islanders.
Tavares’ name was lifted to the rafters and is officially a retired number, along with numbers of other Generals greats, Bobby Orr, Red Tilson, and Eric Lindros. At the age of 24, Tavares is the youngest player in the Canadian Hockey League to ever have his jersey retired by his former club.