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January 21, 2020


Here’s an excerpt from a recent sportswriter’s conversation with Tavares re Babcock. Tavares is – 7 this year primarily under Keefe. Now if part of the philosophy of Keefe (run and gun offence) and part of Babcock (some defensive positioning away from the puck and all defence when they have the puck) could be melded together for everyone, we might have a contender if the current players have the mental and physical skill sets to do both. I have my doubts with some on the current roster but with the right trades to send a message to the whole team and to upgrade defensive skills, maybe:

SN: Did you talk to Mike Babcock after he got fired?

JT: Yes.

SN: How did that conversation go? Or is it ongoing?

JT: Well, I just called to thank him. He was a big part of bringing me here. Also, he helped me become a better player. I had a really good year under him (a career-high 47 goals, 88 points and plus-19). He taught me a lot, and I think his commitment every day to maximize the team and maximize everybody was extremely impressive. He wanted to help do something special here. So I think just for all that, and obviously you’re disappointed it didn’t work out because, as players, we’re the ones responsible when we go out on the ice to play at a high level and get the job done and make the plays necessary to win games. So, you feel a sense of responsibility. I think (it was) owning up to that and having a good conversation and just wishing him the best and enjoying whatever downtime he has and whatever happens with his future.

SN: Do you believe he’ll be back in the NHL?

JT: I do. He’s just very competitive. Unless he’s very content — I’m not sure. But it’s hard to see him not doing what he’s done for so long, and he obviously had a lot of success with it.

SN: How specifically did Mike improve your game?

JT: He talked about a lot of things away from the puck and just committing to them on a daily basis, game in and game out. And they’ll lead to a lot of good things. It’s effort, but at the same time, it makes the game easier for you. So, it’s just buying into that and understanding that. That was probably the thing that I remember the most.