Photo Credit: Courtesy Toronto Marlboros

Remembering when John Tavares was introduced to the hockey world

If you watch him in the NHL today, there’s one thing that’s abundantly obvious: John Tavares is an exceptional player.

He’s outscored everyone in his draft year by nearly 150 points, scored 30 goals four times, 80 points or more three times, and has consistently risen to the challenge of making everyone who touches the ice around him just *that* much better.

And while he’s not quite the NHL’s best player, he could make a case in the upper echelon of more consistent stars. Since coming in the league in 2008-09, Tavares ranks 9th league-wide in points in that span. Considering the eight above him are all pretty much Hall-of-Fame locks at this point, that’s not bad company to be in at all.

But before he was an exceptional pro player, John Tavares was the kid who the OHL decided to change their rules for.

And hey, he was also once the CityTV athlete of the week:

FLASHBACK: Before he was a Maple Leaf, John Tavares was the Athlete of the Week

Playing for the famed Toronto Marlboros association’s minor midget team (despite being a year younger),  he put up some godly stats. That earned him a shot in the junior ranks, albeit in the Jr. A OPJHL.

With Milton, Tavares put up 23 points in 16 games… according to hockeydb, a rate of 1.43 points/game. EliteProspects put him at  That averages out to a rate of somewhere between 69-73 points over the 49 game season, which would have placed him in (or just outside of) top ten in league scoring, as well as first on his team. He also played alongside future NHLers Sam Gagner and Akim Aliu, as well as Canadian World Junior player Stefan Legein.

There was some debate as to whether the OHL would open up its rules to allow a young Tavares in, but not too much. He clearly had nothing left to prove in minor hockey.

Eventually, Tavares got his shot on a bigger stage in September 2005, being the first overall selection in that spring’s Ontario Hockey League draft.  By the time he had hit he OHL just three days after his fifteenth birthday, he’d proven he belonged. With nine goals in his first ten games, the legend of John Tavares was just beginning.


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