Now that the first big question about the Bandits' offseason has been settled - in the form of a hiring of a head coach - we move to the second one.
What will John Tavares do?
Tavares, who has played for the Bandits since 1992 and who holds every major scoring record in National Lacrosse League history, suffered a torn calf muscle near the end of the regular season for Buffalo. He has not played summer lacrosse so far this season. Bandits' general manager Steve Dietrich said he expects Tavares to take the summer off and make a decision before training camp.
I've had a couple of longtime Bandit observers guess this summer that Tavares may be almost ready to call it a career. He will turn 45 later this year. His love of the game is strong, but he just may not be able to compete at the game's highest level. He probably hates sitting around while the summer league goes on.
If Tavares does determine that he can't play any more, what's next? One of those observers guessed that Tavares would wind up as a Bandits' assistant coach under Troy Cordingley. From JT's standpoint, he'd have the chance to maintain a connection to the game. Tavares also would get to explore the coaching business without the pressure of stepping right into a head coaching job - and he probably would like that.
Tavares obviously played with Cordingley and also played under Cordingley when Troy was an assistant coach for the Bandits. I have no clue about their personal relationship. However, I got a sense that despite the mutual respect between Tavares and Darris Kilgour in a player-coach relationship, JT might not have been enthusiastic about working on a Kilgour-topped staff.
In short, I'm not writing off Tavares from wearing #11 on opening night in 2014. I am suggesting that the Cordingley hire could improve Tavares' chances of turning up in the First Niagara Center in 2014 even if he does retire.
--- Budd Bailey