Last stand for Oshawa's Civic Auditorium

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

The similarity is somewhat striking.

The Oshawa Generals will play their final game at the Civic Auditorium Sunday night with a talented 16-year-old in their lineup, John Tavares, who could one day have the hockey world by the tail.

When the Generals played their first game in the building on Dec. 15, 1964, another 16-year-old oozing with potential wore the uniform. His name was Bobby Orr and he would go on to be a revolutionary player.

"It's where I really learned to play at a different level," Orr said in a telephone interview. "I learned a lot about hockey, and if I was ever going to change, I was going to do it there. I played a style that really wasn't played in the NHL but (Generals staff) just let me go. I'm thankful for that.

"Those memories from that building, they are forever."

The Gens play host to the Kingston Frontenacs Sunday and will move into the 5,500-seat General Motors Centre five days later when the Owen Sound Attack visits. As of late yesterday afternoon, just standing-room only tickets were available for Sunday's game.

Much of the closing festivities will take place after the game, with more than 70 Generals alumni, dating from 1936 to 2003, participating. Among them will be Orr, and the club expects Dave Andreychuk to attend. Because of scheduling conflicts, current National Hockey League players and former Generals such as Eric Lindros, Marc Savard and Jason Arnott will be unable to attend.

Tavares has a long way to go to get close to the status that Orr achieved, and there is no guarantee that he will. But as a 15-year-old, Tavares scored 45 goals for Oshawa and was named Canadian Hockey League rookie of the year. He turned 16 in September and has 11 goals in 11 games.

At 15, Orr had 72 points and had 93 a year later.

"It's pretty cool that he was here when the rink opened and they knew his name well when he was done," said Tavares, who has had dinner with Orr in the past. "I hope I can be like that (when he leaves Oshawa)."

Generals fans will notice something else about the new rink -- the Bobby Orr Lounge won't be making the move to the new arena.


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