May 9, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) waits for the puck drop against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in game five of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

John Tavares, Unscripted


Well, sort of.

To be clear – and legal disclaimer, here – THIS IS A PARODY. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to read. Besides, nothing notable has happened with the New York Islanders since their postseason exit, so why not lighten the mood a bit?

That being said, this piece is a foray into the [relative] unknown, as we depart slightly from the news and analysis we normally provide regarding the team. We hope you enjoy our take on what goes on inside the mind of John Tavares…

 

When John Tavares isn’t on the ice doing John Tavares things (see here, here or here), he’s busy chronicling his in-season thoughts in his journal. (It’s not a diary, OK? It’s a journal, because he’s a hockey player.)

We at EyesOnIsles have obtained copies of said journal entries beginning with the night of the Game 6 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and are pleased to be able to share them with you, the loyal reader.

 

May 11, 2013 – Saturday

I’ll be honest, it was a lot easier to write when the team was on that run that earned us a postseason berth. On days like today though, it’s tough to put my thoughts down on paper. But that’s neither here nor there.

I’ve tasked myself with writing, so I have to write, no matter how many times Marty Reasoner asks me to take him out for ice cream after a loss.

I guess it comes down to this: you never really feel like you’re going to lose those playoff overtime games, but sometimes it happens. Sometimes you have to skate before you can walk.

Like me. I could skate before I could walk. (True story.)

I haven’t even changed out of my uniform. My skates are still on, all laced up. And not because I can’t get over what just happened out there – seriously, BROOKS ORPIK? Has he even recorded a single shot on goal during his career? – but because I’m ready to hit the ice and start practicing for next year.

Besides, it’s never too early to think about next season.

Most of the guys in the room are pretty down right now. I can’t afford myself that luxury though. What I can afford myself is the first practice session of the 2013-14 New York Islanders season right here, right now. After all, they keep telling me I’m “the face of the franchise,” not “the sad face of the franchise.”

Sure, the event staff might be trying to close down the Coliseum for the night; I’ll just ask Ronny for the keys so I can lock up on my way out. Maybe I’ll keep the keys so I can sneak in during the offseason, I haven’t decided yet.

On my way out of the room, Okie stops his postgame interview and asks me where I’m going.

“Practice, Kyle. Gotta practice,” I say, grabbing my stick and a handful of pucks. “Time to get the taste of this loss out of my mouth.

“Alright man. We’ll be back, don’t you worry. We’ll be back next year,” he tells me. Then he turns back to the reporters huddled around his locker and asks which one wants to fight him.

Okie’s kind of a fighter now. I like it.

 

May 13, 2013 – Monday

You know that scene in D3: The Mighty Ducks – man, what a great movie, except it probably should’ve been about a Canadian hockey team, not about some prep school in the United States but whatever – that scene when JV takes on the Varsity at dawn? And the JV team is hungry to prove that they belong, even though the Varsity thinks that the JV kids have no place at Eden Hall Academy? When I stepped onto the ice this morning at the Coliseum, it was kind of like that.

Except I was the only one there. And there was less fog.

(Seriously, re-watch that scene and tell me how unrealistic all that fog was. I understand the cinematic importance of emphasizing the feel of that game, but let’s try to keep it realistic, boys. It’s not like they were playing pond hockey at a nightclub. Maybe dial it down a bit.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I live for early-morning workouts. Chumps like Malkin and Crosby can have their rest. I’m not here to sleep; I’m here to win. And sometimes winning actually means losing in a tough first-round playoff series even though you know in your heart you should’ve won.

But that’s a story better left told in the pages of some NHL referee’s memoir. It’d probably be in the chapter where he admits to fixing Game 3 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders.

You know, something like that.

So I’m out there on the fogless ice, 5:00 a.m. this morning, doing my warm-up stretches and a few quick turns around the rink, and I start wondering if the Isles dynasty teams ever had pre-dawn practices.

Because it’s never too early to start comparing yourself to the best hockey team of all time.

Motivation to be the best can come from anywhere: the thought of one day becoming the leader of a talent-laden hockey club; the Stanley Cup championship banners hanging at the rink; an ESPN highlight showing Crosby wearing a helmet/shield combination that looks like what an effeminate Bane would wear if he could skate…

Motivation is funny like that. Now every time I watch The Dark Knight Rises, I can’t even get into it anymore. All I can think about is Bane wearing a Crosby helmet.

Not cool.

 

May 14, 2013 – Tuesday

Everyone keeps telling me it’s “locker-clean-out day” or “exit-interview day,” but what it looks like to me is it’s “let’s-do-anything-but-put-on-our-pads-and-skates” day. I’m not a fan of cleaning or exits. I am a fan of hockey though.

Which is exactly why today is so confusing. I mean, aren’t we playing hockey here?

I stop coach Capuano as he’s on his way through the room, heading towards his office.

“Hey coach, we gonna skate today? Maybe take some shots on Nabby? He looked like he could use some extra time in goal, if you know what I mean. And I’ve got some great ideas for new line combinations and some different drills we could run–”

But Cap cuts me off. “Johnny, the season’s over. Remember, we lost Game 6? We don’t have practice for another couple of months. We all get some time off now.”

“Coach, I hear what you’re saying but you’re not making any sense,” I say. “Who put you up to this? Was it Zeeker? It was Zeeker, wasn’t it? I like that kid’s style, so I won’t go too hard on him. You can tell me if it was him.”

Cap just shakes his head, smiles and continues toward his office, leaving me standing in the middle of the room. I figure this has to be some elaborate prank.

Because just when you’re not expecting it, teammates, coaches, trainers, general managers, owners, ticket takers and team mascots will plan a secret meeting behind your back and devise a subtle prank to test your leadership capabilities and try and throw you off your game.

But you’re better than that. You’re John Tavares.

So I go, “Good talk, coach. Can’t wait to start practice again…at the end of summer!” Then when he turns back to look at me, I throw him one of those stage winks, so he knows that I know what’s really going on here.

Me: 1
Teammates/Coaches/Trainers/General Managers/Owners/Ticket Takers/Mascots: 0

 

May 16, 2013 – Thursday

Got an email from Nabby today:

“How you are DOING, Johnny boy? This I must tell you: I watch a video on interweb machine this morning and tell to myself I should share it with Johnny T. Plz click in this link, is short motion picture from my home country. Just watch, it is CRAZYYYYYY. You will laugh as much as when coach-man Cappyuano say that Reasoner is starter for NHL game HAHAHA.   ;););)   #20”

I don’t even need to open these links anymore. I know what he’s sending me because it’s what he always sends me.

His thing is sending me links to Russian dashboard camera videos. I mean okay, yeah: those clips of helicopters buzzing traffic, unsanctioned street fights, bears driving cars (or whatever it is that goes on during normal days in Moscow) can be pretty wild. But still, how is spending hours on YouTube going to help me become the NHL’s best player?

Exactly. It won’t. Which is why I started doing this thing where when Nabby emails me a YouTube link, I don’t click on it. I just reply with: “LOLOLOLOLOL Russia is SO CRZY, AMIRITE!!! Dostoyevsky is my favorite writer,” or something like that.

By now, Nabs probably thinks I’m an honorary Russian after all the dashboard cam videos I’ve “watched.” But whatever, those replies seem to work.

At least, until he sends me another link 13 minutes later. I’m thinking about changing my email address.

 

May 18, 2013 – Saturday

Matty Marts texted me, asking, “Brah, it’s the weekend. You down to clown 2nite?”

So I responded, “Wut?”

“Me zeeks n matty ice are hittin the bars. U down?”

Knowing what I know about Matty Marts, Zeeker and Moulson, I figured I was in for a long night if I agreed to go out with them. Long story short, I declined the invite – Matty Marts said it was cool, he understood – and ended up staying home.

You know why? Because all that game film from the 2013 season wasn’t going to study itself, that’s why. As the future leader of this team, I’m obligated to break down game film with the intensity of an NHL scout.

Or at least with the energy of a 22-year-old who really really cares about getting better at hockey year after year. Yeah, that’s it.

 

May 19, 2013 – Sunday

Went to church today.

I know that the Bible says the seventh day is for resting, but let’s be serious: why rest when I can be practicing my toe drags and one-man cycling drills at the rink? I’m not saying that church should be held on the ice…but it should.

My one concession to giving myself some kind of rest was that instead of doing 25 goal line-to-goal line sprints at the end of my workout, I did 24.

I mean, come on: even He took a day off in the beginning. (Not that I ever plan on taking one.)

 

May 22, 2013 – Wednesday

Colin. McDonald’s. Acting.

(And yeah, that’s his real bed. Kid needs to learn that you don’t have things handed to you in the NHL. Unless you’re me. But those things were only handed to me because I worked harder than anyone else to get them. Write that down.)

 

May 23, 2013 – Thursday

I didn’t know what a Twitter hashtag was until today. Whenever I tweeted them, I thought it was just funny to put a bunch of words together without spaces, you know?

True, Colin made that video yesterday or whatever, but I thought it was for a school project. I didn’t really get what he was doing. Or why he told people it was his house before correcting himself and telling people it was really mine.

This whole #NHL14Tavares thing has really taken me by surprise. The fans on Long Island have always been great to me, and if I can win this thing, I’m hoping it vindicates some of the love they’ve shown since I got here in 2009.

Guys like Grabs and McDonald have been on the front lines in the hashtag battle, pushing my name and trying to get me votes. I couldn’t believe it when they showed me their Twitter feeds, it was basically #NHL14Tavares for days.

You never want to take a ton of pride in personal accomplishments, but this would be pretty cool. Shout out to all the fans that are trying to make it happen and get me on the cover of the game.

I wonder how Bobrovsky is doing. Bet he’s stressed out. Last I heard, the vote was pretty close. How could that even be possible? Then I realized Bobrovsky is from Russia…and so is Nabby. I want to believe that Nabs wouldn’t help the enemy like that, but what if he knows that I never watch his videos?

That has to be it. There’s no way the cover vote should be as close as it is; Nabs is trying to get back at me for the videos, right? I gotta get on YouTube.

Nabby has eyes everywhere.

 

-MW

 

 

As always, thanks for reading us at EyesOnIsles. Keep it right here for all of your NHL playoff coverage and Isles offseason news. Be sure to check the menu bar at the top of the page for ways to connect with the EyesOnIsles staff, as we’re always happy to talk hockey.

 

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