January 9, 2009, was a dark day for Oshawa hockey fans, and this season, at least, things have just gone from bad to worse since the London Knights broke our hearts. The Generals have a record of six wins and 17 losses since January 9, and have only two wins in their last 10 games. They currently sit one point ahead of the Peterborough Petes for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Despite the bleak look now, I still firmly believe that the Generals will rebound next season and will compete for the Division title. Let’s look at it this way: Tavares is done with the OHL after this season: he’ll be drafted and unless hell freezes over, will stick with an NHL team in September. By trading away Tavares this year, we have guaranteed ourselves a better team by way of who we got in return.
Look at the numbers: forward Christian Thomas, 16 year old son of ex-NHLer Steve Thomas, has 13 points in 22 games. He will only get better as he gets older. 17 year old defenseman Scott Valentine has 9 points in 20 games, looks to be a great set up man, and has the ability to change the course of a game with a single body check. Goaltender Michael Zador will challenge Kevin Bailie for the starter’s position next season, giving the Generals a great tandem in net. This doesn’t even include the great nucleus of players coming back next season, like Andy Andreoff, John Padulo, and Calvin de Haan, or the draft picks that will be coming in.
The team that we see now is still very much JT’s team. He was their captain, and not easily forgotten. Next year though, he will be a distant memory and the players will be allowed to build a new legacy on their own. Generals fans have every reason to believe that next season will see our return to greatness.