Islanders Should Support John Tavares’ Olympic Participation

Mar 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) takes the ice for warm-ups against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) takes the ice for warm-ups against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Today the NHL announced its decision to skip the 2018 Olympics in Korea creating a stir amongst NHL players and fans alike. What it could mean for the New York Islanders might just be settled on John Tavares – as most things are.

Let’s face it, the Olympics and the New York Islanders haven’t exactly been the best of friends over the last decade. Sochi enraged fans with Team USA’s blatant snub of Kyle Okposo and then stole John Tavares for the remainder of the 2014 season when he sustained a knee injury.

Some might argue losing Tavares ended the Islanders’ playoff hopes, but those were pretty much gone when the team barely escaped a horrific November and Jack Capuano kept his job.

New York Islanders

What Olympic possibilities do the Islanders actually have? USA Hockey doesn’t seem to look twice at the Islanders roster when there’s a full pool to choose from. 

Would Anders Lee blip their radar this time around? Would Nick Leddy? Foolishly, probably not, with how the World Cup team was built.

Are the Islanders overflowing with Finnish, Swedish, and Russian players? Nikolay Kulemin played in Sochi, so maybe it affects him.

Only One Left

That leaves Tavares, who should always be considered on the short list of sure things. And we all know Hockey Canada won’t ever be ready to acknowledge Joshua Ho-Sang’s greatness. Ahem.

Islanders management may be hesitant to allow Tavares back to the Olympics considering Sochi. Let’s e honest, though, we all know every player takes their health into their hands when they step onto Barclays ice.

With all of the hoopla surrounding Tavares and his free agency, maybe a “supporting Olympic participation” clause in his new contract could be a selling point. Tavares isn’t a rock the boat kind of guy, but he wants to play.

Yes, there’s a possibility that the league bars owners from allowing players to go, but that’s not final, yet.

The Honor of Representation

Here’s the deal, though. So many of the NHL stars want to represent their country. It is their honor and in some ways, their responsibility. They recognize what it means.

It’s the NHL’s responsibility to grow this game and to spurn Olympic participation is a tragic failure to seize the opportunity to do so.

It’s the New York Islanders responsibility to grow their brand and sell their team. They’ve been doing a poor job of it for a long time.

Next: Isles Bracket Challenge Winner

Playing any part in keeping their superstar and captain from showcasing his talent on the world stage – in an environment BUILT for it- is harebrained, and frankly, insulting for just how much he has sold this team and kept it afloat.