Legends of the Game

In the Fifty-eighth edition of “Legends of the Game” we look at the career of John Tavares.

From Wikipedia:

Born September 4, 1968, in Toronto, Ontario, John is a former professional box lacrosse player and current head coach of the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League (NLL).

Outside of Lacrosse John is a mathematics teacher at Philip Pocock Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario.

Tavares played his entire MILL/NLL career with the Buffalo Bandits, starting in their inaugural season in 1992.  John was acquired from the Detroit Turbos in exchange for Brian Nikula in October 1991.

National Lacrosse League:

On Saturday February 18, 2006, the Buffalo Bandits defeated the Minnesota Swarm by a score of 14–9 in front of 12,458 fans at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. In that game, Tavares tied the NLL career points record at 1,091 held by Gary Gait, who had retired after the 2005 season.

Saturday March 4, 2006, 10,961 fans witnessed history. Once again hosting the Minnesota Swarm, John got two points in an 11–8 loss. The first was his 1,092nd career point, the record-breaker, which was an assist to Mark Steenhuis who scored a power-play goal at 11:57 in the second period. (The second point, Point 1,093, was also an assist to Steenhuis in the third period.) Play was stopped, and Tavares was given the game ball.

Saturday January 20, 2008, John scored his 597th career goal (against goalie Matt Vinc) in a win over the New York Titans, passing Gary Gait and becoming the NLL’s all-time leader in goals scored. 

Saturday May 17, 2008 Tavares won his fourth championship (his first since 1996) as the Bandits beat the Portland Lumberjax in the championship game. Tavares had two goals in the game.

Career totals including playoffs:

• Games Played: 344

• Career Goals: 899

• Career Assists: 1,050

• Career Points: 1,949

• Loose Balls: 2,464

• Tavares was the first player in NLL history to have 500 goals and 500 assists.

Points Milestones:

• No. 1: Jan. 4, 1992, assist to Rich Kilgour vs. New York in first game.

• 100: March 20, 1993, goal vs. Detroit’s Paul Mootz in 16th game.

• 200: Jan. 20, 1996, goal vs. Baltimore’s J.J. Pearl in 34th game.

• 300: Feb. 7, 1997, assist to Darris Kilgour vs. Baltimore in 47th game.

• 400: Jan. 8, 1999, goal vs. Philadelphia’s Dallas Eliuk in 62nd game.

• 500: Feb. 18, 2000, goal vs. Rochester’s Pat O’Toole in 78th game.

• 600: Feb. 10, 2001, goal vs. Washington’s Devin Dalep in 91st game.

• 700: Feb. 1, 2002, assist to Chris Driscoll vs. Montreal in 107th game.

• 800: Feb. 8, 2003, assist to Mike Accursi vs. Toronto in 122nd game.

• 900: Feb. 14, 2004, goal vs. Anaheim’s Matt Disher in 139th game.

• 1,000: Feb. 19, 2005, assist to Delby Powless vs. Rochester in 154th game.

• 1,091: Feb. 18, 2006, assist to Cory Bomberry vs. Minnesota in 169th game. (Ties Gary Gait’s then-existing NLL Career Points Record)

• 1,092: March 4, 2006, assist to Mark Steenhuis vs. Minnesota in 170th game. (New NLL Career Points Record)

• 1,600: March 17, 2012, goal vs. Minnesota in 259th game.

• 1,949: May 8, 2015, assist to Dhane Smith vs. Rochester in (Division Semifinal) game 349. (final tally)

Canadian Lacrosse Association:

John won seven Mann Cups, 1992 and 1993 with the Brampton Excelsiors, 1994 through 1996 with the Six Nations Chiefs, 2003 with the Victoria Shamrocks, and 2012 with the Peterborough Lakers. 

In 1992, 1993, and 1996, Tavares won the Mike Kelley Memorial Trophy as Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the Mann Cup.  John also won the Major Series Lacrosse scoring title eight times, and the MSL’s MVP award three times.

International Play:

Tavares represented Canada  internationally playing for his home country in the 2003 and in the 2007 World Championships, winning the gold medal in both.


After retiring from playing after the 2015 season John transitioned to coaching, becoming the Bandits assistant coach in 2016.  When Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley was assigned a position as head scout and assistant General Manager in late 2018, John and long time friend, teammate, and colleague Rich Kilgour were promoted from assistant coaches to co-head coaches of the team.  After the 2019 season, John was named as sole head coach of the Buffalo Bandits.

Inducted into the NLL Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2016.

Inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Inducted into the Mississauga Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.


• ^“NLL legend John Tavares retires after 24 seasons”Inside Lacrosse. September 2, 2015. Retrieved 18 December 2017.

• ^“Bandits Beat Swarm 14–9, Tavares Ties Record”NLL.com. February 18, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-28.

• ^“Tavares Breaks Points Record, Bandits Fall”NLL.com. March 7, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-28.

• ^Wheeler, Brian; Zita McKenna (March 4, 2006). “Tavares Breaks Scoring Record”Bandits.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-28.

• ^“Tavares breaks NLL scoring record”TSN.com. March 4, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-28.

• ^“Tavares Breaks Goal Scoring Record”NLL.com. January 19, 2008. Archived from the original on January 19, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-20.

• ^“All-Star reserves announced”. NLL.com. February 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-05.

• ^“Player National Lacrosse League”NLL.com. Retrieved March 9, 2020.

• ^“Historical Stats of the Mann Cup”Bible-of-Lacrosse.com. Archived from the originalon 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2007-08-15.

• ^“Player Profiles: John Tavares Stats”Bible-of-Lacrosse.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2007-08-17.


• ^“World Indoor Lacrosse Championship rosters”Outsider’s Guide. 15 May 2003. Archived from the original on August 8, 2008.

• ^“2007 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship Canada roster” (PDF). World Indoor Lacrosse. 25 June 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 20, 2007.



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