John Tavares penned New York Islanders fans a very touching letter yesterday on the Player’s Tribune.
In a piece written for The Players Tribune, former New York Islanders captain John Tavares opened up about his decision to leave Long Island and join the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Here is my response:
Dear John Tavares,
Thank you for the memories. Thank you for sticking with us through the thick and thin. Thank you for bleeding blue and orange.
You were a class act, one that represented the Islanders in the utmost of fashion. As a captain, you cared about your teammates, coaches, and fanbase. What you did for this organization will never be forgotten.
I will always remember watching your goal that tied up Game 6 of the 2016 Playoffs. The roller coaster of emotions that I went on, from watching Vincent Trocheck nearly score an empty-netter to Nikolay Kulemin throwing the puck in front, was unbelievable.
As that puck was sitting in the crease, I knew you would be there to tap it in — just like you always were.
However, when fans think about your time on the New York Islanders, it will not be your two-goal Game 6 to oust Florida from the postseason. It will not be your goal 15-seconds into overtime against Washington. We will remember your betrayal.
Someone who prided himself on being professional and respectful turned into a villain, setting the Islanders back for years with one “swift” decision.
The rationale is understandable: Toronto was your home and it has always been your dream to play for the team you grew up idolizing. You followed your heart and made the decision that you thought was best for you, and that is okay.
"This is something beyond just, you know, being a kid from this city, and loving this team, and watching this game. This is … I mean … this is me, now. This is what I want to do with my life. Right here, in this building, like these guys are doing tonight."
You are a man of integrity, yet you found a way to hold ownership, management, and the fans hostage while contemplating something that was seemingly already decided. Playing for the Maple Leafs was your dream. Why didn’t you make that more apparent?
While requesting a trade would have been out-of-character and inconvenient for you, it would have been a win-win. You could have signed for eight years in Toronto instead of seven, caught a glimpse of what life was like playing for your hometown team, and the Islanders could have received prospects and draft picks for your talents.
"I know there will still be some people who feel I should have been traded — or asked for a trade at the deadline. (I respectfully disagree. I was Captain of the team, and I took that role seriously. My focus was on staying in the moment, and doing everything I could to help the Islanders win.)"
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Your anecdotes from Long Island that you shared with us were truly beautiful. I always knew that you cared about this city and it was obvious we cared about you too.
But if you cared, why did you handle this situation the way you did? Your legacy could have been saved if not for the circus you led six NHL teams on this offseason that ended in something you always knew would happen.
The letter you wrote was touching and a very nice gesture. You did not have to do that. Yet I cannot get over the way in which this played out. This feels like a nasty divorce, and your letter was your way of justifying your decision and begging for approval.
The title of your letter is “To the Islanders Faithful,” yet two out of the five sections of your letter were you expressing your love for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Why rub salt in the wound? If you truly wanted to apologize, why bring up your new team?
"I thought about how the Leafs have a strong, young core that’s accomplished a lot in a short amount of time — and about how they’ve been able to establish themselves in this league as a real contender. I also thought about how the franchise looks to be in great hands with Kyle Dubas, Brendan Shanahan and Mike Babcock: great people with an impressive plan for where this team can go — and an exciting vision for how I can be a part of it."
After reading this letter multiple times, what you did hurts so much more. I can’t help but feel that you just want to say thank you for your own personal closure and then move on, but you need to realize that it is so much more than that.
A “thank you” is nice, but how can we truly say “you’re welcome?”
You said Long Island was home. You requested to not be traded at the Trade Deadline. You distracted the Islanders from going about the rest of their offseason.
John Tavares … thanks for reading, thanks for caring.
Thanks for everything.
But your actions can never be forgiven. No letter can ever change what you’ve done.
-A Heartbroken New York Islanders Fan