Buffalo Bandits peg Tavares as captain for first time
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • January 10, 2013 @ 7:59am
Buffalo Bandits star forward John Tavares has been a Bandit for 21 years, but he’s never worn a “C” on his sweater. An alternate captain several times—including National Lacrosse League All-Star games—Tavares will be the team’s unquestioned leader in his 22nd—and perhaps final—season.
Newcomer Shawn Williams, an attacking acquisition from Edmonton, and top defender Scott Self were chosen as alternate captains.
The role of an NLL captain, in the on-field sense, at least, is that he’s the only player who can discuss calls with referees. The remainder of the role is undefined—many captains are inspirational vocal leaders, players with the drive and character to make their teammates better. Some teams operate better in the locker room with multiple leaders rather than one figurehead, and in other situations, the captain is in name only, as the coach holds the sole authority.
Here’s the official definition from the NLL rulebook:
Even though I’ve only covered the Bandits for a sliver of Tavares’ career, it’s clear that he’s a lead-by-example type—not as much a vocal leader. When we visited training camp on Dec. 8 to talk with Luke Wiles, he dropped an interesting nugget on Tavares’ leadership qualities.
“JT is the smartest one out of all of us, but he doesn’t really want to talk—he just wants to go out there and get his points and go home, but he gets a lot of frickin’ points,” Wiles noted. After holding out for the beginning of training camp, Wiles made a plea for a letter but was passed over by the Bandits’ staff.
There’s nothing innately wrong with a quiet leader, and when Tavares speaks up, he’ll have the undivided attention of his teammates simply because he’s an NLL legend, an athlete that many current Bandits grew up admiring. Will he speak up? What kind of leadership will he provide?
Another interesting to consider is just how scaled back Tavares’ role will be this year. Will he serve more like a player-coach from the bench, only serving as a power-play specialist and logging heavy minutes only when the Bandits are in need of an offensive spark?
Truthfully, the answer probably lies somewhere in-between. The Bandits’ captain will probably log similar minutes to last season—perhaps a little less—and if Buffalo starts the season hot and is assured of making the post-season, JT’s minutes will be reduced to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Both Self (33) and Williams (37) are both experienced and respected—we had predicted that it would be Self as the primary captain to fill the void of departed Chris White. The returning Bandit defender is humble and direct—at least in our interactions with him during press conferences over the last few years—and he’s the most reliable of Buffalo’s options out the back door.
(Photos courtesy of Dave Marino).