Eyes On Isles Season Review – #91 John Tavares
By Gary Harding
Well – what can you say.
He has done EXACTLY what the Islanders hoped he would have done, and has carried himself in an extremely professional and respectful manor.
In all honesty, if he played on ANY OTHER TEAM, than the New York Islanders, his story would be constantly shown on the NHL Network. They would talk about him all the time on the NBC sports Network. Article upon article would talk about his exploits. Hell, he would have had an NHL36 special by now.
But John Tavares is not a BlackHawk, or a Maple Leaf, a Canadien, or even a Ranger.
He is on THAT other side of Manhattan, that desolate no-where land called Long Island. That disgrace of a franchise.
Before the 2009 draft, Brian Burke, the GM of Toronto, was trying to do anything, and I mean anything, to make a deal to move up to have a chance to obtain that number one pick. John Tavares belongs in Toronto, according to him, and people were going around and say he (Tavares) did not deserve to play on Long Island. Oh, it is OK that Edmonton has had the last three draft picks, but God forbid, a long suffering franchise like the Islanders should not have the job of molding him to be a competent NHL player.
Well – sorry to say critics, Garth Snow and the collective coaches have done an ADMIRABLE job, in getting this young man to his next contract, and we are all seeing the signs of a true star in the making.
Each year, his numbers have progressed. From 24, to 29, to 31 goals. From 54, to 67, to 81 points. His plus minus from -15, to -6. When he first came up, you could see him timidity on the boards and in the corners. That is not new to any first year player in the league. It is just the young man learning the game at the highest level. From year to year, you could see that he was learning to pick his spots. Many a third line and fourth line physical forward was out to get him, and in many times, they did. But as the games went on, the opportunities seemed less and less; and in many instances, he would give it back as well as initiate the physicality from time to time. He was beginning to send the message (and make it loud and clear) that he could dish it out as easily as he could take it.
The other instance in where there were issues, was the skating portion of his game. It was not that he was slow; but to the novice student of the game, there wasn’t the explosiveness that you see in the stars of the game. This situation was remedied, and last season saw a new version 2.0 of JT91. Not only was he able to get away from defenders, but at times did it with ease.
But what came out this year, was his exceptional moves, and vision on the ice. He is among those special players that can see what is happening before it actually does. Putting a blind pass into a corner, knowing that a teammate is going to be there. Getting that push pass off when there are two and even three players on him. Getting shots off that no one can seem to duplicate. JT will hit that ripe old age of 22 on September 20th, and at that time, he will be in a class with the best in the league, or at least he SHOULD be there. That is, if the press outside of our own little area, begins to get off their collective asses and writes about him.
He is among those special players, that should be put in that upper echelon of talent in the NHL. If he was wearing Maple Leaf blue and white, he would be the toast of Canada, probably equal to #87 in Pittsburgh. But since he calls Uniondale his home, he is put in the back of the discount rack, like another can of peas.
Oh yea, the grade…. What do YOU THINK I should give him?
Yes – the answer….. DUH! A++++++++
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