John Tavares became the all-time leading goal scorer in Ontario Hockey League history.With his hat trick Sunday night, London Knights star
Tavares, widely expected to be the first pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, passed Peter Lee's standard of 213 when he scored at 12:58 of the third period. He increased his mark to 215 when he scored his third of the night -- the game-winner -- in a 4-3 defeat of the Windsor Spitfires.
"I'm just happy we were able to come out of here with two points today," Tavares told reporters after the game.
Lee scored 213 goals with the Ottawa 67's from 1971-76. Losing a record he had held for more than 30 years was a bit disappointing, but Lee said he is proud to hand the crown to Tavares.
"I've met John and you see the passion he has for the game, the respect he has for the game," Lee told NHL.com. "He knows it's a team sport even though he's chasing the record. When someone like that breaks your record you're pretty sad, but knowing him and learning about him, if you're going to be beat, it's definitely good to be by a person like that."
Tavares tied the mark 4:51 into Sunday's game, and after he scored goal No. 214, he received a long standing ovation from the Windsor crowd.
"I really appreciated the reaction of the fans," Tavares said. "They have great fans here and it was a classy thing to do."
The hat trick gives Tavares 13 goals in his current eight-game goal streak, and a league-best 58 goals. He also leads the league with 104 points.
Tavares has two more games left this season to solidify his mark; while he remains eligible for two more OHL seasons, it's a certainty he'll be wearing an NHL uniform next season.
Lee was the 12th pick of the 1976 Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, but never played for them. In six NHL seasons (1977-83) with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Lee had 114 goals in 431 games, including a pair of 30-goal seasons. He played the final 13 seasons of his career in Germany (1983-93, 1995-97), and currently serves as the GM for Eisbaren Berlin in the German Elite League.
He's seen some footage of Tavares on the Internet, and met him briefly during last year's World Championships, when Tavares played for Canada and Lee worked for Switzerland.
"At that time there was a lot of talk about him not staying in junior," said Lee. "I said if you're going to come over, come to Berlin and leave my record alone."
One mark Tavares won't be able to break is Lee's record for goals in a season, which he set in 1975-76 when he scored 81. The most Tavares scored in a season was 72, in 2006-07.
Unlike Sunday, when there was so much attention paid to Tavares' record-setting goal, Lee didn't even realize he had the career mark until after he learned he owned the single-season standard.
"That was the big record," said Lee. "At the end of the day when your career is over, they total them up and say hey, you've got the most goals. The last year when I had 81 and broke Richard Martin's record, I was on a pretty good roll, had some good linemates.
"A few years later they totaled them all up and the record was there."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com.