September 02, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) After 24 seasons, professional lacrosse's all-time leading scorer is moving on to coaching.

John Tavares announced his retirement Wednesday during a news conference at First Niagara Center. Tavares announced his decision on Wednesday during a news conference at First Niagara Center. Tavares will join the Buffalo Bandits coaching staff as the offensive coach under Troy Cordingley.

''The game of lacrosse has been in my blood since I was 4 years old,'' the 46-year-old Tavares said, two days shy of his 47th birthday.

''It's definitely hard for me to let go and it's been a great ride and everything's got to come to an end,'' he said. ''As much as I want to play and my mind is like, `Go, go, go,' and unfortunately my body's not following anymore and it's time to let go and start a new chapter of my life.''

Tavares ends his career with nearly every National Lacrosse League scoring record with 899 goals, 1,050 assists, 1,949 points in 344 career games. He also played in Canada's summer indoor box lacrosse leagues in Ontario and British Columbia.

Cordingley was his Bandits teammate from 1993-1999 and his coach since 2013.

''He's been the face of the NLL; the best athlete, bar none and that's in any sport,'' Cordingley said. ''What he's done for our league and our sport and our franchise is unbelievable.''

Tavares helped the Bandits to four NLL championships during his time in Buffalo. He said winning the first title in 1992 was ''the first memory I have and one of my favorite memories of playing for Buffalo.''

Tavares scored the game-winning goal in overtime that gave the Bandits an 11-10 victory against the Philadelphia Wings and was named Champions Cup MVP. He helped the Bandits to championships in 1993, 1996, and 2008 as well.

Tavares, who works as a high school math teacher in suburban Toronto, is also the uncle of New York Islanders captain John Tavares.

''That's been my life,'' Tavares said. ''Teaching Monday to Friday and playing lacrosse on the weekends.''

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