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John Tavares

Mar 3, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz yells during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Mar 3, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz yells during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

Barry Trotz had something to say upon being presented his Stanley Cup ring in November, addressing the Washington squad he had helmed to the franchise's long-awaited first championship the previous spring.

"You can do it again," Trotz told Alex Ovechkin and the Caps in the visiting locker room at Barclays Center. "You'll have to go through the (effing) Island, OK? But you guys can do it again."

No one is scoffing anymore at that middle zing, no one should be snickering anymore at this woebegone franchise, which has proven dramatically what a little adult supervision, accountability, actual on-ice structure -- and a bought-in rallying point concerning a departed superstar -- can do in implementing the longest of overdue culture changes and fostering immediate results.

Tags: John Tavares, Robin Lehner
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This wasn't supposed to happen again at the old barn. April 25, 2015 was it for the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum -- although fans hoped it wouldn't be after the Isles defeated Washington to force a Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs before bowing out of the tournament, out of the barn, out of Long Island.

But against all odds, the biggest, loudest party on the Island is back Wednesday night, and everyone paying money to take part should drink it all in, because it is a deserved reward for the Islanders after the season they've had, the one that nobody saw coming.

Playoff games anywhere, let alone at the Coliseum, seemed like the wildest of dreams once captain John Tavares departed. Nobody would've believed any bit of the path to this moment, Game 1 on Hempstead Turnpike, if it was told back in 2015...

Tags: John Tavares, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Feb 28, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) skates past a sign held by a fan of the New York Islanders during warm ups before a game at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 28, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) skates past a sign held by a fan of the New York Islanders during warm ups before a game at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Among those who felt John Tavares could have better handled his departure from the Islander last summer is franchise icon Clark Gillies

The NHL Hall of Famer who won four consecutive championships with the Islanders during the 1980s ripepd the former Isles captain Monday at a fan event hosted by Newsday. 

When asked about Tavares not re-signing with the team and inking a seven-year, 77 million deal with the Maple Leafs, Gillies held little back: 

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If the boos weren't enough evidence that Islanders fans have yet to forgive John Tavares for signing with the Maple Leafs last offseason, then one spectator's rant against the Isles' former captain really hammered that truth home. 

When Tavares headed to the penalty box in the third period of Toronto's 2-1 victory over the Islanders at the Coliseum on Monday, a gentleman used the opportunity to lay into the 28-year-old and gave him a piece of his mind. 


Apr 1, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) screens New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Apr 1, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) screens New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (40) during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

The atmosphere wasn't quite as rabid as it was for John Tavares' first return to the Coliseum, but Isles fans of course were none too happy to see their former captain score his first goal against his former club as the Isles fell to the Leafs Monday night, 2-1, in their final home game of the regular season. Tavares' goal ended up being the game-winner.

Worse for the Isles is they failed to capitalize on an opportunity to close the gap on Washington for the Metropolitan Division lead as the Capitals lost to the Panthers. The Isles remain three points back with two to play. Robin Lehner made 16 of his 36 saves in the first period. >> Box score


First period:

  • N/A
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Feb 28, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) skates past a sign held by a fan of the New York Islanders during warm ups before a game at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 28, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) skates past a sign held by a fan of the New York Islanders during warm ups before a game at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

John Tavares could have reason to celebrate at Nassau Coliseum on Monday night. 

The former Islanders captain, who was mercilessly booed and taunted by fans in his return to the arena four weeks ago, can help the Maple Leafs clinch a playoff spot with a win against his former team.

It would also come nine months to the day Tavares spurned the Islanders to sign a seven-year, $77 million deal with Toronto. 

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Feb 28, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with teammates in front of Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) during the first period at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 28, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier (18) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with teammates in front of Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) during the first period at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Head coach Barry Trotz likes that the New York Islanders have gotten a preview of life in the playoffs the last several days. Good thing, because another postseason-type game awaits Trotz and the Islanders on Friday night.

The Islanders will follow up their most raucous victory of the season by trying to maintain sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division when they host the Washington Capitals.

Both teams are coming off lopsided wins. The Islanders will be completing an eventful back-to-back set at Nassau Coliseum after routing the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 Thursday night. The Capitals were off a second straight night after cruising past the visiting Ottawa Senators, 7-2, on Tuesday. >> Read More

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Sean Avery is back and he has not missed a beat. 

No, the former Rangers winger is not returning to hockey, but he did bring back his controversial style of trash talk on Friday when he ripped Islanders fans for booing John Tavares on Thursday night. 

Avery, in a video posted on Twitter, went on an expletive-laden rant toward Islanders fans for their treatment of Tavares upon his first game back at Nassau Coliseum since leaving the team for the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agency. 

Click below to watch video

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Sean Avery is back and he has not missed a beat. 

No, the former Rangers winger is not returning to hockey, but he did bring back his controversial style of trash talk on Friday when he ripped Islanders fans for booing John Tavares on Thursday night. 

Avery, in a video posted on Twitter, went on an expletive-laden rant toward Islanders fans for their treatment of Tavares upon his first game back at Nassau Coliseum since leaving the team for the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agency. 

Click below to watch video

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Islanders spoil Tavares' return 00:01:07
Former New York Islander John Tavares doesn't regret signing with the Maple Leafs but Islanders players definitely fed of the fans' energy

The festivities started in the parking lot, as they often do at Nassau Coliseum, though this was anything but a typical pregame party.

Islanders fans circled Feb. 28 on their calendars the moment John Tavares left their beloved team in free agency to play for his hometown Maple Leafs. They were waiting for this day, when they'd wear their modified No. 91 jerseys with "Traitor" covering Tavares on the nameplate. They poured beer on and burned Tavares jerseys. They had signs made to bring into the old barn with them.

This night was the culmination of eight months of pent up anger, and Isles fans unleashed their fury from the moment Tavares stepped onto the Coliseum ice for warmups through the final horn Thursday as the Islanders routed Tavares and the Maple Leafs, 6-1, in the former Isles captain's first road game on Long Island after signing a seven-year, $77 million deal on July 1 with Toronto.

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Islanders fans on Tavares return 00:00:53
New York Islanders fans sound off on former center John Tavares right before he takes the ice at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Nassau Coliseum will be buzzing on Thursday night, and not necessarily because the Islanders and Maple Leafs will face off in an important Eastern Conference battle. It's because former Islanders captain John Tavares is returning home. 

At least, it was Tavares' home for the first nine seasons of his career before making his free-agent decision to sign with the Maple Leafs on a seven-year, $77 million deal this offseason. He was once Islanders fans' pride and joy, but now, he will touch the ice as an enemy. 

Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello told WFAN on Tuesday that "I hope that he gets the right reception and is complimented by the crowd for whaty he did while he was here." But Tavares knows that his welcome will be the exact opposite from the fan base that still hasn't gotten over him leaving.

Tags: John Tavares, Scott Thompson
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Islander fans not over Tavares 00:01:02
Islander fans were asked to describe John Tavares in one word. Traitor was a popular adjective for the former Captain.

With John Tavares set to play his first road game against the Islanders since leaving them last summer in free agency to sign with his hometown Maple Leafs, Isles fans share their feelings about the team's former captain before Thursday's game at Nassau Coliseum, describing Tavares in one word.

Which was the most common word? Well, let's just say a majority of fans polled by SNY consider Tavares' actions akin to Benedict Arnold's.

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 (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)
(Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

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."

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Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares battles for the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy in the second period at Scotiabank Arena. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares battles for the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy in the second period at Scotiabank Arena. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

John Tavares controversially left the Islanders in the offseason to sign a seven-year, $77 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, his hometown team.

But at the All-Star break, his Maple Leafs trail the Islanders in the Eastern Conference standings by one point.

"They're having a tremendous season. Obviously, it's a complete 180 on the defensive side," Tavares said, according to Newsday's Mark Herrmann. "Goaltending has been a big part of that, but just not giving up a whole lot defensively and it's leading to a lot of success, a lot of wins."

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares, Mathew Barzal, Toronto Maple Leafs
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Oct 29, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares (91) skates against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Arena. Calgary defeated Toronto. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports (John E. Sokolowski)
Oct 29, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares (91) skates against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Arena. Calgary defeated Toronto. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports (John E. Sokolowski)

The Islanders' Feb. 28 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs will be played at Nassau Coliseum rather than Barclays Center -- and John Tavares, for one, is looking forward to it.

The former Isles captain knows he'll hear plenty of boos after leaving his longtime team to sign with the Leafs this past summer. But Tavares told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun that he's nevertheless excited to return to where he developed into an NHL star.

"Yeah I mean, it's really out of my control,'' Tavares said of how Islanders fans will receive him. "However they feel is how they feel. All I hope is that they saw me give all I had for nine years and that I was completely invested in being an Islander. I loved it there. I made a decision that I thought was best for myself and my career. That place still means a lot to me. A lot of great people who had a big impact in my life and a big reason I am who I am today. But obviously they're very proud and protective of their hockey team and what it means to them. They're not very nice to the visitor, at least when I was still part of it, and I'm sure it'll be similar for myself. But it'll be fun to play in.'' 

Tags: John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs
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Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

The Islanders already missed out on their coveted free agent in C John Tavares this offseason. But that is now officially in the past, and focus turns toward another Isles key cog that will see his contract expire at the end of the year as well. 

Anders Lee is in the final year of his four-year, $15 million deal, after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent. It is too early to tell if Lee will take Tavares' route and hear out potential suitors next offseason, but that isn't even on his mind. 

According to Newsday's Andrew Gross, Lee isn't worried about his contract situation, saying "our cases are different."

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New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)

The Islanders may have lost C John Tavares, but new head coach Barry Trotz doesn't believe it will kill their offensive output. 

Yes, Tavares accounted for 82 points last season, but Trotz thinks he has the personnel to find offensive success this upcoming season. 

"This team can score, with John Tavares or without John Tavares," Trotz told The Athletic's Arthur Staple in a Q&A session. "The area it's failed in maybe the last year and a half is on the defensive end. Just looking at the trends over the last four years, it's clear that's an area we need to fix. ...With the John Tavares situation, we look forward, we can't look back. Guys are up to the challenge. John's a fantastic player, face of the franchise and it's a hole you can't fill with one guy. It's collectively with the group."

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares, Mathew Barzal
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Nick Leddy (L) Johnny Boychuk (55) Josh Bailey (12) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Nick Leddy (L) Johnny Boychuk (55) Josh Bailey (12) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

Islanders Josh Bailey and Johnny Boychuk are sick of hearing the team doesn't have any hope next season. And more importantly, those who believe the team will lack leadership with the exit of captain John Tavares, must think again. 

These two Islanders veterans find themselves in position to take the torch, if you will, from Tavares and lead the pack. These past five seasons have been Tavares' team, but now, it is up to the collective group to work together. 

Tavares may be gone, but that doesn't mean the Islanders should be deemed out of the running already. 

Tags: John Tavares, Johnny Boychuk, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Scott Thompson
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Now that "John Tavares" has "written" his farewell to the Islanders for The Players Tribune, here are some final Point Blank thoughts on the whole ordeal:

Tavares' piece was what you'd expect: an attempt to explain himself and thank Islander fans. The timing of its publishing was flawed; the piece posted just as the pain and anger in Islanders Country had subsided. Getting his message across by July 2 would have been more effective and heartfelt. But hey, I know how tough it is to write on deadline.

Still, it's clear from reading the piece that Tavares was very aware of the reaction of his departure, and cares what people think about him. There's nothing bad about that.

Tags: John Tavares, Chris Botta
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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

John Tavares thanked Islanders fans and reflected on his time with the team via a Players' Tribune letter published on Wednesday.

The former Islanders' team captain described a breakdown-like situation he endured when he was forced to choose whether to sign with the Maple Leafs or remain with the Islanders -- a decision he said he "just literally, physically could not" make.

Tavares, who turned down an eight-year deal with the Islanders in favor of a contract with the Maple Leafs, said he wrote the letter because of his "real, honest, still-there love for the New York Islanders hockey franchise."

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Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

After winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, 21-year-old Islanders forward Mathew Barzal can be the new face of the franchise with John Tavares out of the picture.

"He's a driven, driven guy to be the best player he can be," Russ Farwell, the VP of hockey operation for Barzal's junior hockey team, the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, told Newsday's Andrew Gross. "He's totally focused on his game. He's a very confident guy, too. He was a really highly touted minor player, so being the show or being the guy wasn't foreign to him. His whole life, everybody has pointed to him."

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Jan 22, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello and New Yor Yankees general manager Brian Cashman watch the Toronto Raptors play against the Phoenix Suns at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)
Jan 22, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello and New Yor Yankees general manager Brian Cashman watch the Toronto Raptors play against the Phoenix Suns at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)

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. 

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Feb 28, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the third period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
		 (Jean-Yves Ahern)
Feb 28, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the third period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)

Islanders GM and president Lou Lamoriello saw franchise player John Tavares walk out the door last week, but says the Isles did everything in their power to prevent it.

"We did everything we possibly could to keep John," Lamoriello said Thursday on Sirius XM NHL radio. "He's a quality player. He's now with another team. That's the past."

Tavares bolted the Isles for his hometown Maple Leafs, while also passing on joining the Sharks, Bruins, and others. And with Tavares gone, the Isles should be on a three-year plan as they prepare for their new arena, says SNY contributor Chris Botta...

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Feb 28, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the third period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
		 (Jean-Yves Ahern)
Feb 28, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the third period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)

Islanders GM and president Lou Lamoriello saw franchise player John Tavares walk out the door last week, but says the Isles did everything in their power to prevent it.

"We did everything we possibly could to keep John," Lamoriello said Thursday on Sirius XM NHL radio. "He's a quality player. He's now with another team. That's the past."

Tavares bolted the Isles for his hometown Maple Leafs, while also passing on joining the Sharks, Bruins, and others. And with Tavares gone, the Isles should be on a three-year plan as they prepare for their new arena, says SNY contributor Chris Botta...

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Mar 8, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) skates with the puck in the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY (Marc DesRosiers)
Mar 8, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) skates with the puck in the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY (Marc DesRosiers)

After the gut-punch of the loss of John Tavares on Sunday, anyone could understand the desire to rebound. Who among us hasn't been dumped, only to dream of bouncing back with someone just as dazzling?

Otherwise, count me in the minority when it comes to clamoring for the Islanders to make a trade for Erik Karlsson. The Islanders will inquire, and would be right to investigate, but it is not the right move at this time for the club. The reasons...

The Price

Tags: John Tavares, Josh Ho-Sang, Chris Botta
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Isles fans angry over Tavares 00:01:34
Islanders fans give their reactions to the news of John Tavares signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Islanders fans called in to SNY en masse to bid John Tavares farewell.

Some were furious with Tavares, some understood his decision, and others had vitriol for ownership and departed GM Garth Snow.

What are your feelings about Tavares bolting for Toronto?

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Anders Lee (27) Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Anders Lee (27) Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

Isles Country was devastated to see John Tavares decide to take his talents home and play for the Toronto Maple Leafs next season. And though fans may see only darkness ahead for the Islanders, NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire believes there to be light at the end of the tunnel. 

After analyzing the process Tavares took during his interview period that led up to his ultimate decision, McGuire understood why Tavares decided to fulfill his "childhood dream" to play for the Leafs instead of the organization that drafted him first overall back in 2009. 

"I'm not surprised," McGuire told SNY. "When you grow up in a Canadian city and you grew up dreaming about playing for that team whether it'd be Montreal or Vancouver or Toronto, that's a hard thing to not want to foresee or go through. So I understood that part of it after the fact."

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares, Mathew Barzal, Scott Thompson
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John Tavares (91) Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
John Tavares (91) Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

On the day after, as the Islanders turn the page after the most soul-sucking moment for the club and Country in this century, some thoughts as we await Lou Lamoriello's next move…

Lamoriello did not agree to run the Islanders because he was convinced Tavares was staying with the team

Take this to the bank: Lamoriello's decision to tackle this major project did not come down to whether one great player was going to re-sign with his team. His life in the game has always been about the image of "team," not "individual" accomplishments. If anything, Tavares' defection should only further energize the new boss. If this is to be Lamoriello's final act in the game, what better way to close a magnificent career than with the complete exorcism of a team haunted by three decades of mismanagement?

Tags: John Tavares, Chris Botta
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Feb 19, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays the puck against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 19, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays the puck against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

On the day after, as the Islanders turn the page after the most soul-sucking moment for the club and Country in this century, some thoughts as we await Lou Lamoriello's next move…

Lamoriello did not agree to run the Islanders because he was convinced Tavares was staying with the team

Take this to the bank: Lamoriello's decision to tackle this major project did not come down to whether one great player was going to re-sign with his team. His life in the game has always been about the image of "team," not "individual" accomplishments. If anything, Tavares' defection should only further energize the new boss. If this is to be Lamoriello's final act in the game, what better way to close a magnificent career than with the complete exorcism of a team haunted by three decades of mismanagement?

Tags: John Tavares, Chris Botta
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Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

John Tavares asked the Islanders not to trade him during the season. He then flirted with five other teams before bolting the Isles for his hometown Maple Leafs. 

Maybe the Islanders never had a chance to lure Tavares back, with the dream of playing for the Leafs trumping anything the Isles could've done to convince him to stay.

What was your initial reaction to the news? How do you think Tavares handled the decision? What will you miss the most about him? Where do the Isles go from here? 

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Mar 27, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators left wing Tom Pyatt (10) defends against New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) in the third period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Mar 27, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators left wing Tom Pyatt (10) defends against New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) in the third period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

Former Islanders captain John Tavares wrote goodbye letters to the Islanders organization and their fans after he decided to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 27-year-old Tavares spent all of his first nine career seasons with the Islanders dating back to 2009-10 when he was 19 years old.

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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

Islanders captain John Tavares has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a seven-year deal with an average annual value of $11 million.

The Islanders had extended an eight-year offer to Tavares on Saturday afternoon, reports Arthur Staple of The Athletic. But on Sunday morning, he informed the team of his decision not to return.

The Islanders were expected frontrunners to re-sign the veteran center.

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New York Islanders forward John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)
New York Islanders forward John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes) (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

The NHL is collectively awaiting John Tavares' free agency decision as the superstar picks where he'll continue his career, be it with the Islanders or elsewhere.

In the meantime, fans have delivered with humor. Check out some of the best #TavaresWatch tweets below.

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Oct 7, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) in the third period against Buffalo Sabres at Barclays Center. Islanders win 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports (Nicole Sweet)
Oct 7, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) in the third period against Buffalo Sabres at Barclays Center. Islanders win 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports (Nicole Sweet)

Free-agent-to-be John Tavares could make his decision later today.

Tavares, 27, narrowed down his list of teams to five -- the Islanders, Sharks, Maple Leafs, Lightning and Stars -- and has met with each over the past week. He met with with new Islanders head coach Barry Trotz and GM Lou Lamoriello on Monday, and Tavares had previously been a impressed with the Lamoriello hire.

The Islanders drafted Tavares No. 1 overall in 2009, and he has scored 272 goals, 349 assists and 621 points since debuting at 19 in the 2009-10 season. 

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Feb 5, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) skates to a face off against the Nashville Predators during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Feb 5, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) skates to a face off against the Nashville Predators during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

"He wants a fair deal, to be happy, and most of all, he wants to win." That is the viewpoint of a former Islanders teammate of John Tavares, the franchise player who will conclude his listening sessions Wednesday and decide very soon if he wants to stay with the Orange and Blue.

While TSN insider Bob McKenzie continues to pound the refrain that Tavares will stay in New York -- "If you ask anyone around the NHL, they'll tell you he's going back to the Islanders," said Bob -- the Tavares camp wants you to know this process has been genuine and his mind is open to a move.

Tavares' pal took exception to the notion, articulated a few times in this space, that the all-star center is "doing his part" for the NHLPA by listening to his agents and visiting with six teams (including the Islanders). He insists that these three days of meetings are about more than negotiating a salary he could proudly put on the board for his fellow stars in the NHL.

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New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)

The Islanders were one of the first teams to pitch John Tavares, who is about to hit free agency. And if the odds are to be believed, they should be confident in their ability to bring him back

Aside from the Islanders, the Stars, Maple Leafs, Sharks, Lightning, and Bruins are pursuing Tavares. So, who has the best odds to land him?

According to BetOnline, the Islanders are the favorites to land Tavares, which would mean retaining their franchise cornerstone. The Isles come in at +125, followed by the Sharks (+275), Maple Leafs (+500), Bruins (+700), Stars (+800), and Lightning (+850).

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New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)

You won't have to wait much longer to learn if the Islanders are still the slight favorites in the hunt for John Tavares. The Steven Stamkos talks of two years ago taught us that.

Although unrestricted free agency begins Sunday, July 1, Tavares will have completed his "listening period" with other teams by Thursday, and possibly Wednesday night. If, when that process is finished, Tavares does not commit to the Islanders soon after - with a press conference by Saturday at the latest - we will know that sincere interest in other teams remains.

Two years ago at this time, Stamkos embarked on his listening period, as overseen by his team at the powerful Newport Sports - the agency led by Don Meehan.

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Feb 19, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays the puck against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 19, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays the puck against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Islanders were one of the first teams to present their pitch to top free-agent C John Tavares during the interview period that began on Monday, per SportsNet's Chris Johnston

The meeting on Monday night lasted approximately two hours and 15 minutes, and it appeared successful as Isles GM and president of hockey operations, Lou Lamoriello, and new head coach Barry Trotz walked out smiling. 

Tavares has been an Islander his entire life, and though entering the interview period may seem like a slight to the only franchise he's known, Lamoriello doesn't mind it at all. It's his right to do so.

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New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)

The race to win John Tavares' talents next season kicked off on Monday when the interview period opened up. Teams other than the Islanders are allowed to pitch Tavares as they look to sign the NHL's top free agent this summer. 

In their pitch, every team will have their added incentives to piggyback the large amount of money Tavares is likely to receive. For the Islanders, they can add bagels to that list. 

Bagel Boss, one of the most renowned bagel shops on Long Island, has vowed to send Tavares and his wife fresh bagels to their home every morning if he signs an extension with the Islanders next season...

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New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)

Islanders captain John Tavares is expected to decide on whether or not he will enter the interview period on Saturday, per TSN's Darren Dreger. 

The interview period, which allows teams to pitch the free-agent Tavares before contract talks can begin, starts on Sunday. 

Islanders co-owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin have set everything up on a hockey operations standpoint to entice Tavares to re-sign with the team that drafted him first overall back in 2009. They hired Lou Lamoriello as their new team president, and 2018 Stanley-Cup winning coach Barry Trotz joins the Isles as well. 

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The Islanders' courtship of John Tavares is now over. It's up to him to decide whether he wants to stay or leave.

While it's possible the current roster will be upgraded by the end of NHL Draft weekend in Dallas, it won't be done for the sake of winning over Tavares.

The inevitable acquisition of a No. 1 goaltender, the possible bold trade to add another star like Erik Karlsson or subtler moves to shore up the defense -- that's simply Lou Lamoriello's job: to make the Islanders better for the near future.

As for Tavares, he's already seen everything he needs to see - commitment, a complete culture change, the extermination of the losing mindset that infested the organization for more than a decade.

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New York Islanders' John Tavares during warm-ups prior to the start of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)  (Tom Mihalek/AP)
New York Islanders' John Tavares during warm-ups prior to the start of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek) (Tom Mihalek/AP)

Not even the Islanders confirming Stanley Cup winning Barry Trotz as the team's new head coach could distract media and fans alike from focusing on impending free agent John Tavares. 

Trotz was announced as new Islanders head coach on Thursday and, if he didn't already know, he quickly found out that all roads lead to Tavares at the moment.

"I think the Tavares situation is in good hands," Trotz said on a conference call on Thursday. "The great thing is that Lou is in constant contact with John and they've had great dialogue. Obviously I've reached out to him and had a great conversation."...

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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

There has been some cautious rejoicing in Islanders Country over the last 24 hours, in the wake of reports about John Tavares from the very reliable Darren Dreger and Pierre Lebrun, and why not?

Prior to Lou Lamoriello mercifully ridding the Islanders organization of the dark clouds brought by the Garth Snow administration, there was little chance Tavares was staying with the Islanders. Now, there is hope.

NEWS

Dreger and Lebrun have reported that Tavares and agent Pat Brisson have been focused entirely on discussions with the Islanders, and there is a possibility the franchise player could re-sign with the club before the listening period with other teams begins in the last week of June...

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Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)
Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)

Lou Lamoriello is moving quickly in his search for the next Islanders head coach. According to a source, the new boss wants to have a head coach in place by the middle of next week - prior to the NHL Draft in Dallas on June 22 and 23.

Although Lamoriello is not operating under a hard deadline, his reasoning is obvious:

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Feb 13, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) and Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Josh Anderson (77) pursue a loose puck during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Feb 13, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) and Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Josh Anderson (77) pursue a loose puck during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Islanders President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello has been in "near daily" contact with John Tavares' agent, reports Frank Seravalli of TSN

Tavares, who is set to become a free agent on July 1, seemed to approve of the Islanders' decision to hire Lamoriello last month, according to Andrew Gross of Newsday.

The Hockey Hall-of-Famer recently heaped praise on Tavares, calling him "one of the elite players," but wouldn't elaborate upon his future with the team.

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Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

The Islanders said they were going to make a change to their hockery operations, and they certainly made a large splash in that area by hiring Hockey Hall of Fame member Lou Lamoriello as their president of hockey operations. 

Well, Lamoriello's championship pedigree joining the Islanders has reportely impressed captain John Tavares, per Newsday's Andrew Gross. He states that what Lamoriello and Tavares want for the Islanders has a "convergence there."

Lamoriello said that he doesn't view the Isles as a rebuiling team, but instead, a few pieces away from being a true contender.

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New York Islanders center John Tavares (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

With the Islanders' 2017-18 season officially under wraps, the biggest storyline for the offseason will be what captain John Tavares decides to do for next season.

At the moment, his mindset is staying with the team that drafted from first overall back in 2009. But Tavares didn't close the door on checking out the free agent market as well.

"This is obviously where I hope to be. I've always stated that," Tavares said. "But obviously, I have some time to think about my situation and go from there...

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Apr 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Islanders center Anthony Beauvillier (72) skates with the puck against Detroit Red Wings center Frans Nielsen (51) during the first period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Apr 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Islanders center Anthony Beauvillier (72) skates with the puck against Detroit Red Wings center Frans Nielsen (51) during the first period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

The Islanders rallied from a 3-1 third-period deficit to score three unanswered goals en route to a 4-3 win over the Red Wings in their season finale on Saturday. << Box score

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 (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

On Thursday night, the Islanders played their last home game of the season. For John Tavares, it could be his last home game as a member of the team.

Tavares' contract is up after the season and he will be one of the most coveted free agents of the summer. After the game, Tavares tried to downplay its significance and reaffirmed his public desire to stay with the team...

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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

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."

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