JOHN TAVARES AT 20With family support, the center stays humble

12:45 pm: Today, on his 20th birthday, John Tavares and coach Scott Gordon shared a laugh on the ice about the difference between left and right after the franchise center missed an assignment.


“We were working on the forecheck,” said Tavares, born in Ontario on Sept. 20, 1990. “I was supposed to lock the left side and twice I locked the right. We had a laugh about it.”


Tavares had every right to smile about the mishap because, after all the pressure he faced in his teenage years – including his selection first overall by the Islanders in last year’s draft – he has remained humble with his teammates and the coaching staff, with fans and in the media.


On the occasion of his 20th birthday, Tavares was asked to list some of the people who have helped him keep both feet on the ground with so many great expectations on him.


“My parents have been a big influence,” said Tavares after the Islanders worked out at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for the first time this season. “They are always there for support. My Uncle John [Tavares, a professional lacrosse legend in Canada], my agent (Pat Brisson).


“The biggest thing is the game. It’s not easy to be great at this level. You can’t let the tough times get to you, and you can’t let the good stuff go to your head.”


Tavares looked back at this time last season, when he took the ice for the first time with veterans like Doug Weight and Dwayne Roloson – “guys I’ve watched for a long time” – and was nervous.


“I still have the same kinds of feelings,” said the second-year center. “But this year, I know how to handle them. It’s such a privilege to play the game with these guys. The key is to not let things go to your head.”


Between his family, his support staff and friends made in one year with the Islanders, the birthday boy stays grounded.


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