It's a long and winding road for Oshawa Generals forward John Tavares and we shouldn't be too surprised about what he's doing at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
This is a kid who was granted exceptional status, brought into the Ontario Hockey League as a 16-year-old and scored 72 goals as a 16-year-old, but seemed to lose his way a bit last season.
He had a long and sometimes difficult year. It started with the Canada-Russia Super Series in 2007, where he played pretty well and he fared quite well at the 2008 World Juniors with four goals and five points.
But as the 2007-08 season moved on, he seemed to lose his focus and really seemed to lose his game. He wasn't scoring goals, he looked frustrated and was taking long shifts. As a result, NHL scouts were noticing a discernable decrease in his drive and his emotion.
But over the course of the summer, he got re-focused. And on Friday night, we saw character and leadership in him - the same qualities that we've seen in each shift and each game this season for the Generals.
At the start of this season, Tavares was clearly behind Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman in the race for top spot in next June's entry draft. But now, he's clearly ahead.