SUNRISE, FLA. - The phone call was short and without much detail.
“Congratulations,” Peter Chiarelli said to John Tavares. “I wanted to let you know you made the team.”
It may have been a foregone conclusion to you or me or anyone who follows hockey in Canada, but not to Tavares, who described his own anxiety leading up to the Team Canada Olympic announcement as real.
The phone call came without much detail or context. They didn’t talk position. They didn’t talk lines. They didn’t talk responsibilities.
“It was pretty quick,” said Tavares.
“I haven’t really heard anything (since). The only thing I know from the camp in the summer time is they had me at centre. They talked to me about the possibility of playing the wing and being versatile. Whoever I get to play with, I’m looking forward to.”
There is a logjam at centre for Team Canada and exactly where Tavares fits in will be determined by the lines coach Mike Babcock’s puts together in Sochi.
Sidney Crosby will certainly centre one line, probably with Chris Kunitz on one wing and, if healthy, Steven Stamkos on the other.
Jonathan Toews will centre another line, maybe with his teammate Patrick Sharp on his wing.
Patrice Bergeron is perfect for a fourth-line-centre slotting because of his defensive prowess and ability to win faceoffs.
And this is where it gets interesting for Tavares. Does he centre a line, possibly with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, or does Getzlaf play centre, as he did in Vancouver four years ago, and Tavares move to left wing?