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Tavares relieved OHL rule bans trades during world junior hockey championship

NHL.com @NHL

If John Tavares is traded, a new Ontario Hockey League rule will prevent him from hearing about it during the world junior hockey championship.

The league has instituted a trade freeze on OHL players on the Canadian junior team from Dec. 11, which is the start of Canada's selection camp, until the world junior tournament concludes Jan. 5.

The OHL's trade deadline is Jan. 9.

Tavares, the projected No. 1 pick for the 2009 NHL entry draft, was one of 38 players named to Canada's selection camp roster Wednesday and the 18-year-old from Oakville, Ont., is expected to be an impact player at the 2009 world junior championship in Ottawa.

Tavares has not asked to be traded. The Oshawa Generals have yet to decide if they'll acquire players for a post-season run, or deal Tavares and build for the future.

While the Generals could make a deal during the trade ban and wait to announce it after Jan. 5, Tavares says he's told head coach and general manger Chris DiPiero not to inform him of any trade until the tournament concludes.

"I told Chris, 'while I'm there and if all goes well and I'm on the Canadian team, let's talk about this when I get back and let me focus on what I have to do,"' Tavares said Wednesday.

"I think in the end it's best for everybody that's there to not have to worry about what's going on back home. They can think about what they have to do there to win and do what it takes to be successful."

The OHL instituted the rule this season because of what happened to goaltender Steve Mason during the 2008 world junior tournament in Pardubice, Czech Republic.

On the day of Canada's semifinal against the U.S on Jan. 4., Mason found out the London Knights traded his rights to the Kitchener Rangers.

The news was a shock to Mason, who recovered and had a stellar game in a 4-1 win over the U.S. He now plays for the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.

OHL commissioner David Branch said the way Mason was informed of his trade while he was trying to win a gold medal for his country was "distasteful and concerning."

"He had a level of maturity where I don't think it necessarily bothered him, but it could bother others," Branch said during a conference call. "We just feel it serves no useful benefit or purpose and can only possibly take away from a player's performance and we don't want to in any way infringe in that area."

Tavares was Mason's Canadian teammate in the Czech Republic.

"It was a lot on him and even though he was successful and came through, there was a lot of pressure on him and a lot going on for him," Tavares recalled.

So the OHL's traditional trade ban Dec. 19-28 for all players has been expanded for the league's players on the Canadian team. The Western Hockey League instituted the same trade freeze for Canadian team players from Dec. 19 to Jan. 5.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, which had five players invited to selection camp, does not have a trade ban in place during the world junior tournament.

The Generals are 13-11-0-4 and in fourth place in the OHL's Eastern Conference. Their performance in three games in four nights against Belleville, Plymouth and Sudbury starting Thursday could prod the Generals into making a decision about Tavares and their future.

Tavares has a no-trade clause and would thus have a say in which club he went to in the event he was traded.

"Obviously I've been a General for three and a half years and it's been awesome, but I understand the business side of the game and what direction the team might be going," he said. "If it comes down to it and I am traded, I understand.

"Obviously finishing my career in Oshawa is what I thought I would be doing. I hope I do, but if not, I understand what will take place."

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