Whether it's the mere fact that he left or it's the manner in which he left Long Island for his hometown, Islanders fans have been worked up about former captain John Tavares' departure since he tweeted a childhood photo of himself in Maple Leafs pajamas on July 1.
So it'd be no surprise if Isles fans showered Tavares with boos on Thursday when Tavares returns to Nassau Coliseum for the first time since leaving. Isles GM Lou Lamoriello hopes it doesn't go down that way.
"I've heard all about the animosity towards John. He's a tremendous human being and gave tremendous years to the Islanders and a commitment as their captain," Lamoriello, who was Toronto's GM the previous three seasons, said Tuesday on WFAN. "I hope that he gets the right reception and is complimented by the crowd for what he did while he was here. He had every right to make the decision that he did to go and to go into free agency and I respect that."
When informed by WFAN's Evan Roberts that Tavares will indeed get booed, Lamoriello said,"Let's put it this way: I hope it's re-thought and I hope (the crowd) gives him the respect he should be getting. I do understand the passion that the fans have."
Tavares consistently spoke about his love for the Islanders and Long Island but wouldn't commit to the franchise last year by signing an extension. He ended up signing a seven-year, $77 million contract with Toronto.