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Hockey Confidential: Inside Stories from People Inside The Game Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 14, When it comes to hockey, Bob McKenzie is one of the most trusted voices in the game. Now, in his very first book on the NHL, Bob takes readers behind-the-scenes, covering.
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Put it in perspective. Stoddard is well aware of the clamor. And trying to keep a balance and smooth egos is a full-time job of its own. The league has already worked its spell, to be sure. Players are fully focused and highly competitive.

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Some find time to practice solo amid their tightly packed schedules. And a great many go to great lengths to make it to games--despite work commitments that take them time zones away. Already there is league lore. McKnight had a game scheduled for the same night as an appearance at the American Music Awards. He took the risk and attended the awards. Won one.

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Then he boarded his plane for the game, making it in time to suit up and play. Sitting on the step, leaning against the seat above, he studies the scene. He needs to stop talking.

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Every year it gets better. The players get better too. But opening the at-home games to the public, he fears, would break the spell. But in the pressure of the game, it comes down to a different set of tricks--you keep your mind on the clock and your eye on the ball. That brings all the hype down to earth. About Us. Brand Publishing. Times News Platforms. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options.

June 6, And in any game played by J. A lot.

Oldtimers will say the greatest of all time is Gaylord Powless or John Davis. But, for me, J. He just thinks the game on another level from everyone else.

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  • I was there at Maple Leaf Gardens when Gretzky played what he said was the greatest single game of his career, Game 7 of the Western Conference final against Toronto in I stood in the corner, at the glass, near the dressing rooms on the far side from the stands, where everyone else sat to watch the game. I went to the game not ever having heard of John Tavares and I left the arena that summer night feeling as though I had witnessed one of the most incredible feats of athleticism ever, bar none.

    I was totally captivated by Tavares that night. At just under 6 feet tall and, at that time, probably weighing no more than pounds, he seemed so much smaller than the other players. Yet he was so dynamic and explosive, so graceful and cerebral. He was so lean, especially his legs, but they were like coiled steel. His swarthy skin glistened with sweat, his hawkish features evident under the wire facemask, his eyes bright like white-hot light. His passing and shooting was on another level from virtually every player on the floor.

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    You could seem him process the game like no other, Gretzky-like vision and creativity. The things he could do with the ball in his stick cannot even be described. He shot the ball overhand, underhand, side-arm, over the shoulder, behind the back, between the legs. He juked and jived all over the floor, faking and feigning, creating open spaces for himself, but he also carried big, aggressive defenders on his back through heavy traffic. He gave as good as he got, too, figuratively baring his teeth, literally getting his stick into the faces of opponents taking liberties, protecting himself, creating space for himself.

    He used trickery to sneak off the bench and score on a breakaway. He scored a goal diving through the air like Superman. He scored in tight. He scored from far out.

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    He scored from behind the net, he scored from in front of it. He beat opponents one on one, he beat them one on three. He played with unbelievable passion yet there was a calmness and sense of control and purpose in everything he did. Boundless energy, not an ounce of it wasted. I clearly remember thinking that I was seeing someone and something truly extraordinary, an athlete who was every bit as gifted in his discipline as Wayne Gretzky was in his.

    I recall thinking how Gretzky-like his body type was, that anything 99 could do in hockey, John Tavares could do in lacrosse. I asked the lacrosse fans there, who is this guy? John Tavares , they told me. A rising star, a phenom, they added. And they were right. Tavares led Brampton to the first of his five straight Mann Cups that season. Twenty years later, in the summer of , with Canadian summer box lacrosse stops in Vancouver, Brampton, Six Nations, Akwesasne twice , Victoria and St. Regis, J. Laker captain Scott Self received the Mann Cup and instead of being the first to lift it over his head, as is the custom for the winning captain, he immediately handed it over to year-old Tavares, who lifted it, quite likely, for the final time.

    So as a young boy, John Tavares was able to pursue his passion for sports. Money was still hard to come by and sports cost money. Lacrosse, though, he took to it instantly. It just felt right. He also gave hockey a try. But hockey was never my game. In fact, if winter, and hockey season were holding on too long, John the lacrosse player would hurry it along.

    Tavares loved playing for St. It felt like home. The other thing about him is that he was so smart, so tricky. He was always working on trick plays, hiding the ball, pretending to leave the floor on a line change but then racing back into the play to score a goal. He was always pushing the envelope on rules, finding loopholes, getting creative. Shanahan loved lacrosse, too, but knew he would have to give it up to focus on hockey. Tavares, though, was a pure lacrosse player, although Shanahan laughed at what might have been had Tavares been inclined to skate or play hockey.

    Statistically, he ripped up Jr. B goals in 17 games in one season and Jr. A lacrosse. He played and starred in high school football and wound up going to Wilfrid Laurier University, playing defensive back on the Canadian university football team. He graduated from Laurier, with a desire to become a teacher. He was hired as an educational research worker with special needs kids and did that for a couple of years. Officially, the summer leagues in Ontario and B.

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    Or that he had to spend hours in rush-hour traffic, driving the miles from Mississauga to Peterborough for summer games rather than traveling in style on an NHL charter. I am a math teacher. When I was growing up, I played lacrosse because I loved it. There was no pro league to aspire to. Now, he takes great pride in being a father. He and his wife Katrina had son Justin in and daughter Breanne in