The original John Tavares, whose scoring feats came with a crosse rather than a curved stick, will take his place alongside the nation’s greatest sportspeople.
The National Lacrosse League legend, who is widely considered the nation’s greatest professional lacrosse player, has been inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. The institution announced the new members of the nation’s Order of Sport on Thursday (May 12).
Tavares, whose nephew and namesake is the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is a mathematics teacher at Philip Pocock Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga. He also coaches the NLL’s Buffalo Bandits. He set NLL records over a 24-season run with the Bandits. He is first in games played (306), goals (815), assists (934), and points (1,749). He is also second with 2,191 loose balls.
His tenure in Major Series Lacrosse included a star turn with the Brampton Excelsiors.
The 53-year-old credited his success to the start his young self had in affordable community sports in his native Toronto.
“I started playing lacrosse at the age of five for St. Christopher House that offered various programs for underprivileged kids,” he said in a statement. “I never would have imagined the incredible journey it would take me on as a player, coach and now as an inductee into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
“It is an absolute honour to be included amongst such a diverse group of accomplished athletes across the country.”
The Bandits have retired Tavares’ No. 11 jersey.
The 2022 induction class also includes hockey great Hayley Wickenheiser, Olympic champion kayaker Adam van Koeverden and soccer star Dwayne De Rosario. Van Koeverden is now Milton’s member of Parliament.
Tim McIsaac, a 28-times Paralympics swimming medallist, has also been inducted.
A trailblazing Ontario baseball team is also being honoured. The Chatham Coloured All-Stars were an all-Black baseball team that dominated amateur competition in the 1930s, in a city whose history includes involvement with the famed Underground Railroad. In that era, the team’s lineup included a player named Ferguson Jenkins, whose son, Fergie Jenkins, became a star pitcher and the first Canadian to earn induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame .
The honourees were to be recognized in Calgary on Thursday.
The recognition for Tavares came just hours ahead of his nephew playing in a pivotal Stanley Cup playoffs game with the Maple Leafs. Toronto were to face the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of a playoff series on Thursday. Toronto leads the series 3-2.
Whether the honour for one Tavares brings good luck to the other remains to be seen. But in March 2019, the hockey-playing John Tavares had a four-goal game for the Maple Leafs while his uncle, aunt and their two children were in attendance. According to NHL.com, it was only the third time the elder John Tavares had attended one of his nephew’s games in the NHL.