Does Matt Harvey’s Injury Open The Door For John Tavares?


No, John Tavares is not going to be pitching for the Mets anytime soon. But could he help the Isles steal the local spotlight?

Let me preface this by saying I am not a Mets fan by any means, but I appreciate a great player when I see one. Matt Harvey is on the verge of being something special. Today, news broke that Harvey has a partial tear of a ligament in his elbow and will be on the DL for at least a few weeks, surgery a probability, one that would keep him out at least most of next season.

Pretty grim news for fans of a franchise who last made the playoffs in 2006 and has really struggled with relevancy since the mid 80’s. Sound familiar? The parallels between the Islanders and the Mets don’t stop there. Both teams are now franchises on the rise with one special player really grabbing the headlines.

While the Mets’ star may be on the shelf for a while, this may be a blessing in disguise for the Isles and John Tavares. The Mets are not going to make the playoffs this year, so the biggest focus, come early October for both team and fan-base, would have been how many starts Harvey achieved down the stretch and how he performed. With that likely no longer being a focus, perhaps all eyes can turn towards the “other” biggest star in NY, John Tavares.

How do I figure that JT is NYC’s next big thing? Well, let’s look at the other teams in the area and their marquee players. The Yankees’ Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez will always be in the NY headlines. But, even best case scenario, that will end in late October, a few weeks into the hockey season.

The Giants? Eli Manning has 2 titles under his belt, but as a 32 year old QB, although still a very good player, he is on the back end of career.

We won’t even discuss the Jets, because Rex Ryan is a disaster, Mark Sanchez is worse, and honestly until Geno Smith shows something noteworthy, there’s not much to discuss.

The Rangers have Rick Nash, but he’s not now, and never will be John Tavares. Nash is a very good player. But, JT is a franchise player. He is a homegrown player. It’s always more special when you can win with “YOUR” player. Ask Yankees fans about how they revere Jeter, Rivera, Posada and Pettitte. There is a reason they are called “The Core 4”. They were developed from within. The homegrown core. The Isles are doing the same thing with Tavares and their young prospects, and hope to be just as successful.

The Devils? Not NY, but if you insist on including them, Martin Brodeur is clearly past his prime and Ilya Kovalchuk is back to speaking Russian full time.

That leaves us with John Tavares front and center. JT and the Isles have a golden opportunity to seize momentum and really make the people of NY take notice. If Tavares can propel the team to a fast start, with a hot start of his own, he could truly become a NY media darling. If the Isles can keep it going, they could make the NHL take notice as well. Last season Tavares was a Hart Trophy finalist. With any luck, the Isles and JT will get further this year.

On the other hand, just think of what would happen to the Isles if this kind of thing happened to JT. What if Tavares was out long term with a concussion, or a broken leg? It would be awful! No, the Isles are not JUST John Tavares. But, they are not exactly the Pittsburgh Penguins either. There are a number of very good players on the team, but let’s face it, John Tavares is not exactly replaceable. He is the heart and soul of the team and the likely future captain. Losing him for an extended period of time would really be like a kick to the gut. I am sure Mets fans are feeling the same way about Matt Harvey today.

While the Isles may not currently be the talk of the town, a quick start by their superstar, and things could change in an awful big hurry.