Call him General Tavares?

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

John Tavares' day in the Ontario Hockey League is about to come.

The OHL will announce today the 14-year-old Tavares, who turns 15 in September, is eligible for the 2005 draft on Saturday. The league has been trying to come up with a process in which an exceptional underage player can be drafted, since it has no interest in potentially losing a player of Tavares' calibre. It's expected Tavares can be chosen by any team in the first round, but it's unlikely he will get past the Oshawa Generals, who have the first pick.

"We're excited but we have to wait and see," Tavares' mother, Barb, said. "We were excited the last time but it didn't happen. (If John is eligible), we have no reservations. Skill-wise and maturity, he is ready to go to the next level."

In March, the OHL board of governors was to vote on a proposal that would have seen each of the four non-playoff teams have the right to pick an underage player in the first round. But after a public backlash, the board didn't vote. Part of the debate was what criteria would be used to determine whether an underage player is exceptional.

Barb Tavares said her son would have no trouble reporting to the Generals, who were last in the OHL this past season with 35 points. There has been clearance for a new arena to be built in Oshawa and the club has said it will bid for the 2008 Memorial Cup.

"Our focus has been on players born in 1989, but if he is (eligible), it obviously changes our thinking," Oshawa general manager Brad Selwood said.

In March, John Tavares said the OHL would be "a great opportunity" for him next season if he was eligible. His agent will be his coach of the past three years, James Naylor.

OHL commissioner David Branch said last week there would be no announcement regarding Tavares this past Monday, but a league committee still was investigating the "exceptional player" issue. Tavares, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound centre, not only had an superb year with the Toronto Marlies minor midgets, but had 23 points in 16 games for Tier-II Milton.


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