For the first time in his career, John Tavares will be playing against the New York Islanders and it’s certainly going to be a weird day.
I already hate today. For the first time since John Tavares fled to Toronto to the tune of $77 million, the New York Islanders are taking on the Maple Leafs. All the emotions from the original departure are starting to return.
For the first 36 games of the Islanders season, it was a little bit easier to forget. The Isles are off to a good start with a 19-13-4 record, and Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello are already beginning to pay dividends.
Despite all that, it’s still hard to ignore the media from the Great White North, salivating at the success of John Tavares. In 38 games with the Leafs, J.T. has 26 goals and 44 points. He’s on pace for a career year while the Leafs sit comfortably in a playoff spot.
Like the girl that got away, it’s still not easy to see Tavares have the kind of success and get the recognition after all these years with someone else.
It was Tavares’ choice. Ultimately, he didn’t want to be here anymore despite countless times he preached the exact opposite, lying straight to our naive faces. While there’s still hate and resentment towards J.T. it’s hard to ignore the good times as well.
Game 3 against the Washington Capitals, Double Overtime against the Florida Panthers, the good moments are creeping back into my mind too along with the same anger that’s been there since July 1.
Here’s what the former Islanders captain had to say about playing against his former team:
"“I assume it will be strange for sure at some level,” he said. “It’s really hard to say because I’ve never done it before. You’re in one place so long and you give so much to one place. I’m sure there will be many emotions. At the same time, I have to approach it the best way I can, just like any other game. I have to do my best to help my team win and try to play my best and be as best prepared as I can.”"
The first time is always the hardest. I’m kind of glad the first time is on the road as well, that way fans can get all of these emotions out from their television screens rather than in person. In person, he deserves to be booed.
February 28, 2019, is going to be a war zone. John Tavares is making his return to Nassau Coliseum and it’s going to be a nuthouse, exactly how it should be. It’ll get easier to move on with each passing game.
Tavares is, and forever will be a snake to Islanders fans. Today, it’ll feel weird to go against Tavares, but every time after that the boos will be the norm, and that’s quite okay to me.