Features | 1/17/2013 11:20:25 AM | Alex Beilman
| John Tavares (Photo: Bill Wippert)|
John Tavares has built up an impressive NLL résumé over his 22-year career with the Buffalo Bandits. Not only is he the leading scoring in team history, he is the all-time leading scorer in NLL history and has won four championships.
This year, however, he has something new to add to an already impressive career. On January 9, just two days before the start of the season, it was announced that Tavares was named as team captain for the 2013 season.
Tavares has served as an alternate captain with the Bandits in the past and feels that experience has prepared him for this moment. The opportunity presented itself after former captain Chris White signed a contract with the Toronto Rock.
“[The coaching staff] called me in a couple weeks ago and asked me how I felt about it,” Tavares said. “I felt this year I was ready for the captaincy, so I was pretty honored to be named as captain of the Bandits.”
Tavares understands that the challenge of being captain will be unique because of how the roster has changed for the Bandits this season. The team parted ways with several veteran players, such as the aforementioned White, Kevin Buchanan and Brandon Francis.
In an effort to get faster and younger, the team brought in 2012 draft picks Dhane Smith, Hayden Smith and Carter Bender, along with younger players like David Brock and Nick Cotter.
Regardless of the change of the roster, Tavares knows that he, along with alternate captains Scott Self and Shawn Williams, will be able to help guide the new players and make this season more successful than last year.
“I think part of the reason I took on this role is the amount of change on the roster,” Tavares said. “I thought I could take on a more integral role in helping develop a more positive culture on the team and mould these younger players into becoming what the coaching staff and I think a Buffalo Bandit is.”
Another part of Tavares’ decision is that he is still able to not only be a leading voice in the locker room, but also be a leader on the floor by contributing offensively, something he has done so well over his entire career.
“I think it’s very important that I am still able to contribute. In order to speak up in the room, I need to be able to contribute to the team on the floor,” Tavares said. “I feel I can still contribute a lot more after the first two games. It’s nice when you can lead by example. It’s hard to be the captain when you’re making mistakes and trying to tell guys what they should be doing.”
The true weight and responsibility that comes with being the captain came into perspective for Tavares during last Saturday’s home opener. The Bandits fell behind early, but thanks to a six-point effort by the new captain, they were able to claw their way back for a 13-12 victory.
“I had a couple of situations where I was rushing the play and taking early shots,” Tavares recalls. “Darris [Kilgour] called me into the changing room and gave me a piece of his mind about me being the captain and leading by example. I thought I did a better job of that in the second half.”
Tavares knows the end of his career gets closer with each passing day, and wants to make the most of his new role as captain by leading his team to another championship.
“I know that one day I’m not going to be able play, and that day is going to be pretty soon. I want to play while I can,” Tavares said. “I feel like after 22 years I am ready to be the captain and ready to lead this team to a championship.”