Tell John Tavares to get off the practice rink and he won't.
Tell him you'll show video of him crying and he'll threaten to kill you.
That fun detail comes from Elliotte Friedman's latest "30 Thoughts" column at Sportsnet, who shared an anecdote from skills coach Glen Tucker in thought #25 of this week's piece:
Tucker’s first big client was John Tavares, who he first met when the Islanders captain was a young boy. "Tavares forced me to be a better teacher, because he refused to leave the ice and I’d say, ‘What am I going to do with this little (bleep)?" he laughed. "I’d tell him I’ve got another group, and he asked for just five more minutes. I told him I’ve got him crying on tape at age seven or eight and some day I’m going to use it. He said, ‘Do it, and I will kill you.’"
The spur for this tale was actually discussion of Tucker's work with Minnesota forward Charlie Coyle, whose goal production (and shooting percentage) has almost doubled this year through 67 games. Tucker runs Shoot to Score Academy in Massachusetts. Freidman reports that Coyle, 24, always credits Tucker, who emphasizes the need to be able to shoot from uncomfortable, more compact spaces due to the tight defensive coverage they will face in the NHL.
Some interesting stuff in there from Tucker:
"I compare it to an airplane taking off from a ship’s runway…you don’t have enough room to get top speed."
Tucker made Coyle shoot on a four-foot-by-one-foot board situated four inches off the ice. "It forces your bottom elbow up, your top hand up to the armpit. Very compact. Creates muscle memory so you get used to doing it this way…. When you get it, you have to be ready to shoot it..."
You can definitely imagine where such instruction would've influenced Tavares at a young age, what with his "inside-a-phonebooth" maneuverability to get shots off. And you can see that constant perfectionist drive for self-improvement in his game still today, at age 25.
Just don't, you know, tell him practice time is over.