I was at the Nassau Coliseum to watch some games in the first year of their existence. I was lucky enough to be a season ticket holder for the New York Islanders for many years and was in the old barn when they won their first Stanley Cup on May 24, 1980 when Bobby Nystrom scored the winning goal in over-time of game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers. The place went crazy! They went on to win 3 more Stanley Cups in a row. It was so very special. (Top photo credit, NHL.com/Google)
That was a long time ago and a lot has changed. NY Islander fans have been suffering for a long time. A tired old building on Long Island, bad management, bad players, an awful move to Brooklyn which is not working out and our one big hope, John Tavares deserted us.
As everyone knows by now, John was in the final year of his contract. He gave every indication that he was going to re-sign. At the trade deadline in March he said he wanted to stay. Management at the time lead by GM Garth Snow made the decision not to trade Tavares for some players and draft choices. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
New management came on board with Lou Lamoriello as the new GM and then Barry Trotz was hired to be the new coach and of course the new arena at Belmont Park. Really huge stuff! Again, our one star, John Tavares gave no indication that he wanted to leave. Well, that was not the case.
Over and over he said he wanted to stay. The Islanders had the upper hand and were able to offer him an 8-year huge money contract. It seemed like a no brainer. Well yeah, up until a couple of days before free agency! As was his right, Tavares interviewed with several teams. Again, everyone thought it was just a formality. Well, it wasn’t. Right until a few hours before free agency was to begin, he left us on pins and needles. And then, the unthinkable happened. He left us out in the cold and signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, his home town.
Maybe I am sour grapes, but I never thought Tavares was a super-star. He managed to get us into the playoffs 3 times. Superstars like Mike Bossy, Clark Gilles, Brian Trottier and so many more from the past…. they were my heroes!
Good riddance, John Tavares. I can’t wish you well. I hope that the new management team spends the extra money that they have wisely in free agency and through trades get some quality players. I know that they will get us better hockey players than the player who walked out on us. Patience fans!
Photo Credit, NHL.com/Google