Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has nothing but respect for John Tavares after the former team captain opted to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"In my dealings with John, he proved himself to be a sincere, honest young man," Lamoriello told NHL.com. "He earned the right to test free agency, and that's what he did.
Tavares totaled 621 points in 669 games with the Islanders since he was drafted in 2009.
Lamoriello said after the loss of Tavares that the Islanders still have enough talent that they do not require a "breakdown," per the New York Post.
"There are a couple of exceptional hockey players here, in my opinion, as far as their talent. We have an exceptional coach, no different than what we had in Toronto. You look at it totally different as far as how you go forward."
"I don't specifically know the reasons for John's decision, but you have to respect his right to make it," Lamoriello said. "I certainly respect him."
Lamoriello said he wishes the best for Tavares and his new team, which still has many familiar faces from Lamoriello's time with the Maple Leafs.
"I'm happy for them," Lamoriello said. "There are very good people there (in Toronto). Starting with Larry Tanenbaum, ownership was always tremendous with me in giving me the autonomy there to do what I thought was best for the organization. And my relationship with [coach Mike Babcock] was impeccable.