Tavares staying with Generals

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 5:51 PM ET

KITCHENER -- John Tavares is not for sale.

Oshawa Generals co-owner and alternate governor Rocco Tullio said the impending trade of the team's star player -- with the London Knights being mentioned as a front-runner -- is just one of many rumours he's been trying to put to rest since the club parted ways with GM Brad Selwood and the bulk of its scouting staff this month.

"John is a franchise player and we're going to try to surround him with the parts to turn this into a championship team," the Windsor businessperson and land developer said. "John has a contract with us for one more year. I fully expect him to be playing for the Generals in September."

But that could change soon if the Gens look like they'll be rebuilders and not contenders.

"As a businessperson, you'd be crazy not to look at all options and do what's best for the team," Tullio said. "Even Wayne Gretzky got traded, but we want John here with us and that's where we expect him to stay."

The 17-year-old Tavares is the projected No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL draft. He recently parted ways with agent Bryan Deasley, who is no longer an employee at Siskinds Sport Management in London.

The Generals, who were once considered the front-runners to hold the Memorial Cup, were unhappy with the way their season ended in an embarrassing 11-0 defeat to the Belleville Bulls in the OHL's Eastern Conference final.

"That was unacceptable to us to lose in five games to the Bulls," Tullio said. "But we don't think we're far off from where Belleville is. We have some great parts. We have JT and (Michael) Del Zotto and Kory Nagy and with the import draft, that gives us the chance to pick the next (Mikkel) Boedker the way Kitchener did.

"We're going to have to replace (leading goal-scorer) Brett MacLean and (Patrick) Asselin and that's not going to be easy."

As he left the team, former head scout Rob Honighan vowed Tullio will make himself the next full-time GM of the Generals. Chris DePiero, who took over coaching duties when Selwood stepped down in the middle of the season, is serving in an interim role.

"In reality, I have no interest in becoming the GM and that's just someone who doesn't have all the information," Tullio said. "We have our list of candidates and we don't feel like we have to rush.

"We're going to wait and see what happens in the NHL and OHL because we expect more fallout. That statement was made by Honighan and it's the ultimate tail wagging the dog. His draft history speaks for itself. We have just eight or nine players that he's picked over the past four years still in our system."

There has been talk London assistant coach Dave Gagner would be a strong candidate to take over in Oshawa. He is a former NHLer, has career coaching aspirations, comes from a winning program and was a coach for Tavares' Toronto Marlies midget team.

He also has one year left on his Knights contract.

"That's the first I've heard of that," Tullio said. "I'm not trying to mow other people's lawns. If we were trying to get Dave Gagner, we would certainly contact Mark Hunter first."

Hunter, the Knights' GM, is in the position of being able to take a run at a star player on another team. He has plenty of draft picks he could move to a club looking to rebuild.


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