Islanders RW Josh Ho-Sang feels the media is trying to draw C John Tavares to Toronto, but he doesn't think his teammate is paying much attention to the noise.
Tavares, who has one year remaining on his contract, has yet to receive an extension on his deal despite the Islanders saying he is the face of the franchise. Because of this, the 26-year-old has drawn speculation as to where he might land if he hits the open market.
The Maple Leafs are one of those teams, but Ho-Sang can't see Tavares even thinking about going to Toronto. Instead, he believes the media wants him up there.
"John's dealt with a lot his whole life, I don't think this is going to be anything for him really," Ho-Sang said. "If anything, he's going to score more. They (the media) want him to go to Toronto."
Ho-Sang, who is from Toronto, isn't a big fan of his hometown team.
"Stupid Leafs, I grew up in this city, I get it," he said. "Same thing (with Stamkos) a couple years ago, and he was re-signing the whole time. But that's their job right I guess, I don't do what you guys do."
Tavares led the Islanders with 43 points last season (20 goals, 23 assists). He is set to make $5.5 million this season.
Well, 'Stupid Leafs' is a t-shirt slogan, if I ever heard one....
The best part about this Ho-Sang quote is that it's startlingly accurate. Ho-Sang knows firsthand what it's like to draw the unwanted attention of the Canadian hockey media. The reporting around him essentially caused him to drop to the bottom of the first round, despite a consensus that he was one of the most talented players in the 2014 draft. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that he is able to see through the JT-to-Toronto narrative.
I think the comparison to Stamkos is fair, with the caveat that I don't think the Isles want to get all the way to next July before they have a resolution on this thing. But the team has to take solace in that fact that Tavares has said all the right things, and continues to even as the situation plays itself out. So with John's teammates' support and understanding of what is behind the media's rampant speculation, I think Josh is right in that it won't be a distraction for 2017-18.