If Isles fans want a little reassurance that captain John Tavares would be in blue and orange next season, don't ask Tavares himself.
Finishing up the final year of his six-year, $33 million deal, Tavares notes that he wants everything to work out with the franchise, but he wouldn't promise that he will still daunt an Islanders jersey next season.
"The fan base has been tremendous since I got here," Tavares told Newsday's Andrew Gross. "People say certain things. I hope it all works out, too, and I'm back as well. I just want to focus one game at a time and finishing the season strong and in the days and weeks ahead there will be plenty of time to think about it and start looking at the future and move forward."
Tavares has been with the Islanders since the team took him first overall in 2009. But loyalty to the only team he has been a part of may not be in the cards, as he looks ahead to his future. Though the team did land the rights to build at Belmont Park, the new arena won't be ready until the 2021-22 season, which means the Islanders' will continue to play in rented arenas that will likely include Barclays Center and the Coliseum.
While processing that, Tavares must also look at where the team is headed organizationally. Fans have called for owners John Ledecky and Scott Malkin to get rid of GM Garth Snow, who hasn't made any prominent moves to build around Tavares or put the Isles in playoff contention.
Yes, Mathew Barzal is a rising start to go along with Tavares, but this is the second straight season the Isles haven't made the playoffs. The team clearly needs some restructing, but Snow didn't make any move at the trade deadline to push the team into a better spot to contend.
So, the reality is Tavares may be dressing up for his final game at Barclays Center on Thursday when the Rangers travel across boroughs. But he isn't looking at it that way.
"I don't try to really think about it that way," Tavares said. "My contract situation, I'll start to think about it more and more in the days and weeks to come after the season. I just try to approach them all the same since my first one. Just try to go out and play hard and it should be a lot of fun knowing we're playing the Rangers."
However, head coach Doug Weight said he will definitely be savoring the moment in the case that he doesn't return next season.
"I'm sure he'll take it all in but you hope that's not the scenario," he said.
Tavares is trying to block out the noise as he finishes up the season. He doesn't have Twitter on his phone anymore, as he wants his focus to be on helping the team win, and nowhere else.
"I just try to be myself," Tavares said. "I try to approach it the way I feel best. I just try to give everything I have to this group for as long as it goes. Obviously, the season will end on Saturday. I want to go about it the right way and be the best captain I can be. When the time is right, it will all come to fruition and it will all be over at the same time. It's gotten to this point now. I can't say how it's going to go going forward."