Written by: Greg Martorana
So it’s been almost 36 hours since the announcement was made that the Islanders no longer had their franchise player. I’ve read a lot of reactions, spoken to some die-hard fans, and tried to wrap my head around this depressing news. This is my feeling on the entire situation.
To start from the beginning, I was born in to this organization being more than just your typical fan. The Islanders are my family. I got the chance to call Hall of Famers “Uncle,” watch games from any spot in the Coliseum, hang out in the locker room, and skate on the ice after practice. I lived through stories of the dynasty years and got to watch highlight reels of those days more than cartoons growing up. By the time I was old enough to really follow this team, we were the laughing stock of the league wearing a fucking fisherman on our jerseys. Back then, I might not have understood how bad the team was, but I remember the excitement making the playoffs in 2002 after that seven-year drought. But every time we made the playoffs from that point on, we lost in the first round, and year after year we would add players who eventually left, never having stability in our roster.
Then in 2009 we drafted a kid named John Tavares. He was going to be the savior of this franchise, our saving grace from the hockey gods. He led this team even before he wore the C on his chest, scored big goals when we needed him (2016 playoffs to be specific), and gave us countless memories over the years. He was OUR franchise player, OUR captain, OUR leader. Now, he’s the enemy.
Tavares screwed this franchise, plain and simple. He can get choked up and teary eyed during interviews, but at the end of the day he thought about one person in this situation: himself. He became a superstar in an Islanders jersey, and to go out like this is just wrong. Tavares kept everyone on the edge of their seats even past the beginning of free agency Sunday morning. At that point, everyone said he was not going to return; but because we believed every word he said about staying, this fan base believed a miracle would happen and he would resign with us. As the news broke that he was not returning, I know I felt so sick I didn’t even want to accept it. He left this franchise with nothing but a boatload of cap space and fond memories that will soon be erased from our memories. This was just another blow to a franchise that has had instability for over two decades. So far that, thank you JT (not really you can go fuck yourself).
After Tavares agreed to terms with the Maple Leafs, he tweeted a picture of him lying in bed as a child with Maple Leafs sheets and covers, stating it was a childhood dream come true. This is the only part of the signing I understand. Every kid hopes and prays to play for the team they grew up rooting for. If any of us had the chance to play for our favorite team, I think we would all pass on other offers to get that chance. But the way this occurred was a slap in the face to us the fans. So for this reason only, I understand why you decided to leave. Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives in this situation.
I would love to know if the Leafs did not make the playoffs the last two years, would Tavares had still signed with them? Its more than just going home: it’s a chance to compete for the cup with an established team. Even though the Leafs are still made up of young talent, they are now going to be favorites to win the cup with JT on their roster. But what if they don’t go far in the playoffs? Is JT ready to handle that type of pressure? What if Lamoriello comes to the table next year and offers a max contract to Matthews or Marner?
There’s a lot of “what ifs,” but one thing is for certain: WE WILL HAVE OUR REVENGE!