John Tavares keeps living up to his "special player" billing. The Oshawa Generals forward was named the Canadian Hockey League's player of the year Saturday.
Tavares, from Oakville, Ont., broke Wayne Gretzky's record for goals in a season by a 16-year-old, with 72.
John Tavares of the Oshawa Generals poses for a photo after being named the player of the year at the CHL awards in Richmond, B.C., on Saturday.
(Richard Lam/Canadian Press)
"I didn't really realize how special that was until I broke the record in Ottawa and got a standing ovation," Tavares said. "It's pretty amazing to do something like and break the record the greatest player in the game broke.
"I still don't believe it. It's hard to believe because I just go out and play."
Tavares also had 62 assists in 67 games for the Generals.
He was also the youngest player to win the Red Tillson Trophy as the Ontario Hockey League's most valuable player.
The CHL is the umbrella organization for the Western, Ontario and Quebec major junior hockey leagues.
Tavares was the CHL's rookie of the year last season.
The OHL allowed him to play in the league at 15 because he met the requirements to be a "special player."
Tavares has amassed 117 goals and 94 assists in 132 career OHL games.
The six-foot, 183-pound forward isn't eligible for the NHL draft until 2009.
Tavares was chosen the CHL's MVP ahead of finalists Kris Russell, a defenceman with the Western Hockey League's Medicine Hat Tigers and forward Mathieu Perrault of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
Previous winners of the award include Sidney Crosby, Brad Richards, Eric Lindros and Mario Lemieux.
"To see my name on an award with such great players and guys with such great careers and great success, not only in junior, but in the NHL is an amazing achievement and something I'll remember for the rest of my life," Tavares said.
Kane earns three awards
Other award winners at the ceremony in Richmond, B.C., were:
- The London Knights' Patrick Kane for CHL top scorer, best rookie and NHL prospect.
- Kris Russell of the Medicine Hat Tigers for top defenceman.
- Carey Price of the Tri-City Americans for top goalie.
- Lewiston Maineiacs head coach Clement Jodoin for coach of the year.
- Alexandre Picard-Hooper of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar for scholastic player of the year.
- David Desharnais of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens for most sportsmanlike player.
- Swift Current Broncos goaltender Kyle Moir for the humanitarian honour.
Tavares finished second in OHL scoring to Kane.
The 18-year-old forward from Buffalo, N.Y., had 62 goals and 83 assists in 58 games.
"Coming into the season, I wasn't sure I made the right decision coming to London, but right now I've got to be happy coming home with three awards today and having a good year," Kane said.
Medicine Hat's Russell didn't go home empty-handed. The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect from Caroline, Alta., took the honours for top defenceman in the WHL with 32 goals and 37 assists in 59 games. Russell has won back-to-back gold medals for Canada at the world junior hockey championship.
Russell and the Tigers meet the Vancouver Giants in the final of the Memorial Cup on Sunday.
"The big one is still up for grabs and that's what I'm thinking about," Russell said.
"This award is a credit to me and my team, but there's one more we really want to go after."
Price named top netminder
Price of the Tri-City Americans was named goaltender of the year.
Price, a first-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens, finished the regular season with a 30-13-1 record, including three shutouts, a 2.45 goals-against average and a save percentage of .917.
He also backstopped the Canada to a gold medal at the world junior hockey championship in January.
Jodoin of the Lewiston Maineiacs was chosen the league's top coach.
In his third season behind the Maineiacs bench, Jodoin navigated the team to a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship and their best record in franchise history with 50 win and 106 points in 70 games.
Picard-Hooper of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar was selected scholastic player of the year. Picard-Hooper scored 93 points in 67 games for the Drakkar, while completing a CEGEP program in Human and Social Sciences at Baie-Comeau College.
Desharnais of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens had 108 points in 62 games, but only 32 penalty minutes, thus earning him the most sportsmanlike award.
Desharnais has won the QMJHL's sportsmanship award three straight years.
Swift Current Broncos goaltender Kyle Moir was recognized for his humanitarian work in the community as he made weekly visits to schools and was also involved with Special Olympics Saskatchewan and the Prairie Post Broncos Reading Program.
The WHL, OHL and QMJHL nominated a candidate for each award and NHL Central Scouting chose the winners.