In late February, Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares made his return to Long Island to take on the team that he was the face of for many seasons.
If New York Islander fans had been classy that night, they would have given him a true standing ovation. Tavares, 28, did a lot for their franchise and without him, they would have been a lot worse.
Instead, the team’s fans showed their anger and pettiness. They chanted “We don’t Need You” and booed him every time he was on the ice, even showing a bit of immaturity.
To make matters worse for Tavares, the Islanders destroyed his team that night. They were all over the Leafs and they did everything they could that night to tell Tavares that he made the wrong decision.
A few nights later in Toronto, the Leafs’ fans, clearly more classy than Islander fans, gave him a long standing ovation to show their appreciation for someone who has already had a lot of success for their hockey club. The fans showed him what he means to them and they showed that they will have his back.
The truth of the matter is that based on the way that Tavares has played this season, he does not need them to have success. In fact, he’s having a career year in his first seasons with the Leafs and there is no reason to believe that his success on this team won’t continue.
Tavares certainly does not need the Islanders to produce. As of this writing Tavares has 45 goals and 41 assists for 86 points.
Tavares is currently second in the league in goals, 15th in the league in points, and second on the team in scoring behind Mitch Marner (90 points as of March 26). Not bad for someone who was given a large contract in the offseason.
Speaking of producing, Tavares is surrounded by better offensive players than what he had with the Islanders. Remember, the Leafs have the likes of Marner (90 points), Morgan Rielly (70 points), Auston Matthews (69 points), Kasperi Kapanen (43 points), Andreas Johnsson (42 points), Nazem Kadri (40 points), and Zach Hyman (38 points).
All the players mentioned above clearly have the ability to produce. Tavares never had this kind of production from his Islander teammates.
While the Islanders are certainly having a great season, the Leafs are also having a great season, which means that Tavares will get to play in the postseason. As of this writing, the Leafs have 96 points and are the fourth best team in the league.
With the players that the Leafs have, Tavares has a chance to be on a team that is good for a long period of time. Sure, the Leafs may end up losing some players because of the large contracts they have given out, but the team’s cupboard is stocked and Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas has the team in a good position for the future.
I’m sorry Islander fans. You guys don’t need him, but he certainly does not need you at all in order to have success.
He is doing just fine on his own so get over yourselves and leave him alone.
Photo: The Toronto Star