By: Jack Fenty
July 1st, 2018 will go down as one of the worst days in New York Islanders history, the day that John Tavares decided to sign with his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs over the New York Islanders. After the announcement was made that JT was going to the Leafs for 7 years you could almost smell the burning JT 91 Islander jerseys burning across Long Island. You could also see the rage, hate, and disappointment across Islanders twitter. Now that some of the smoke has cleared and the rage has reduced I am here to give my opinion on the whole situation that played out.
As of midnight, Saturday night, John Tavares had not signed with the New York Islanders, which meant he would not be able to sign an 8-year extension with the team. As the hours rapidly approached midnight the more Islanders fans grew furious and rightfully so after they had checked twitter 1,000,000 times over the course of the day for any news to break. If Tavares did not sign by 12 A.M. there was just about no shot that he was going to sign at all with the Isles. Another reason people were furious at the former captain was he had not contacted the team that they were out. Now, fast forwarding to Sunday David Pagnotta tweeted out “Confirmed: John Tavares has agreed to terms with the Toronto Maple Leafs”. Well this historic tweet sent Isles fans including myself into disbelief and then followed with once again rage. The common theme so far is a lot of angry Isles fans! Then Tavares tweets out a picture of him as a child sleeping under a Toronto Maple Leafs blanket and captions it “Not everyday you can live a childhood dream.” Following that tweet he sent out a six sentence iPhone notes message addressing the Islanders. Okay so there’s the story so why is it such a big deal he left a team that only won one playoff series since he got there you may ask?
At midnight last light I was in disbelief that John Tavares had not signed yet. Just two-weeks ago I was very confident he was going to stay with the Islanders. Even before Lou and Barry Trotz were hired I thought he was staying and I had good reason to believe it. To begin with, at this year’s trade-deadline Tavares told Garth Snow he did not want to be traded causing the Islanders to miss trading Tavares for assets instead of losing him for nothing. Secondly, when the season was over Tavares pretty much said he loved it on Long Island and wanted to stay if everything worked out right. It is hard to see these actions from Tavares indicating that he is going to stay and then at literally the last second flip on the Isles and join the Leafs. John Tavares had ghosted the Islanders, not letting them know he would not be joining them only hours before free-agency opened. Stan Fischler, long time, and much respected reporter for the MSG Networks asked the former Isles captain the question all Isles fans were wondering:
Look I have no idea if Tavares really took up to last night to decide if he wanted to go to Leafs or Isles, but it is very hard to give him the benefit of the doubt at this time. Could he have blatantly lied to the Islanders organization and fans? The part that makes the less sense to me and probably infuriates me the most is the picture of Tavares laying in bed as a kid with the caption being “Not everyday you can live a childhood dream.” After seeing this tweet, it is very hard to not believe that Tavares through his 9-seasons playing on Long Island has not had the thought in the back of his head to play for his hometown team.
At the end of the day though I am not that mad that Tavares did not sign with the Isles. Do not get me wrong Tavares is a great player but the way he was being valued around the league made it seem like he was a top 10 players in this league…which I am sorry to say Leafs fans he is not. At 32 years old, only 4 years from now, I bet he won’t even be a top 30 player in the league. Now readers this sounds as if I am just a crybaby and I totally understand if you think that right now, but I have had these thoughts about Tavares for years. For starters I never found him a great captain let alone a good captain and at times during a game or stretch of the season I found him to be totally absent.
Look at the end of the day this lack of signing sets the Islanders back, but the future is bright with young players such as Barzal, Beauviller, Bellows, Dobson, Wahlstrom, and Toews just to name a few. And with Lou and Barry Trotz calling the shots success will hopefully come in the near future. This is a dark dark day for Isles nation, here’s to better times. Let’s Go Islanders!
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