John Tavares is 22 years old. Let me repeat that. John Tavares is 22 years old. He was born in 1990. I think I have socks older than him. Think of yourself at 22. Whether you’re well past it or yet to get there, were you, or would you be, ready to lead a pro sports team? 99% of us can’t even fathom playing professional sports at any age, let alone being the face of a franchise. Mr. Tavares is doing both all at 22.
As a bit of an early birthday gift before he turns 23, Tavares will be officially named captain of the New York Islanders this Monday morning.
So, what does that mean? Well let’s start with the numbers:
- Tavares will be the 13th man to assume the captaincy of a franchise that has been around for more than 40 years.
- Tavares will assume the captaincy from now departed defenseman Mark Streit, who held it for a total of 130 games (over 2 seasons.)
- The longest serving Islanders captain was Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin; he held it for 8 seasons and 521 games.
- Tavares could easily be the longest serving Islanders captain if he continues to be the leader for the next 7 seasons.
- If he does break the Islanders captaincy record, he would be just 30 years old at the time he breaks it, assuming he stays healthy.
Mark Streit was a vital part of the Islanders for the last few seasons, and provided good defensive stability on the blue line and was a solid presence in the dressing room.
But throughout his brief tenure as Islanders captain, there was an underlying feeling that although he provided veteran leadership, John Tavares was the de facto captain. That allowed the Isles to make the decision to trade Mark Streit at the draft and turn the team over to their budding young superstar. That should all be made official on Monday morning.
When he is named captain of the Islanders, Tavares will be the second youngest captain in the NHL. The youngest captain in the NHL is Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche; who at 20 is not only the current youngest captain, but the youngest captain in NHL history.
Although at first glance he appears quiet and unassuming, Tavares has always been different; making him have to stand out and assert himself. John was taught at an early age how to be unselfish by his pro lacrosse playing uncle of the same name. He has heeded that advice and used it in his NHL career to perfection.
At 13, JT was one of the youngest players ever to play Junior hockey; scoring 11 goals and 23 points with the Milton Icehawks of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League (OPJHL). At 14, Tavares was the youngest player to be drafted into the OHL. He was selected a full year before normally eligible. He was granted “exceptional player” status allowing him to be taken early.
In 2009, Tavares became the most prolific goal scorer in OHL history. In 4 seasons he tallied 215 goals, breaking a record set by Peter Lee; in 5 seasons.
But John is not just about hockey. He is a big supporter of the Special Olympics and has even started his own charity ticket program for underprivileged kids and kids recovering from serious illnesses. He also serves as a mentor for the NHLPA’s All-Canadians program, which helps develop the game of hockey with the youth of Canada.
When the New York Islanders had the first overall pick in 2009, Garth Snow had one man in mind, John Tavares. He has more than lived up to the hype that preceded him. In 4 seasons with the Islanders he has missed only 3 games, and has 112 goals and 249 points. Keep in mind, the Islanders all time scorer, Mike Bossy, has 573 goals.
Watch out Mike, there’s a new “Boss” in town.