New York Islanders now-former player Leo Komarov was always a fan favorite. We’ve all had our quips or derisive comments about Leo Komarov’s play or that four-year $12 million contract he signed in 2018. But deep down we all liked Uncle Leo.
After all, he left it all on the ice and gave us a full effort from the second that puck dropped. But with bottom-six reinforcements being made in the offseason, Leo’s spot on the roster wasn’t a guarantee. It eventually lead to him being sent to the AHL. And well, Leo wasn’t about to do that L with the prospect of KHL hockey possible.
In his final farewell to Islanders fans, Leo “penned” an open letter to the Islanders organization, the players, Lou, and the fans. Here are three takeaways from the letter.
New York Islanders 3 takeaways: Leo Komarov pushed for an exit
Shout out to Lou
Leo went out of his way to thank Lou Lamoriello in his goodbye letter
"I also wnat to say an extra big thank you to Lou. I have never known anyone like him. He is always there to help you become a better person/player and i hav a ton of respect for him."
Players love playing for Lou Lamoriello. Even the guys that are gone. Think about guys like Robin Lehner or Josh Ho-Sang.
Lehner didn’t want to leave but still has nothing but good things to say about Lou, and considering how open and honest Lehner is, you know he’s not holding anything back. Josh Ho-Sang didn’t get the shot he wanted but he’s still never said a bad thing about his time under Lou Lamoriello.
And now Leo, who’s send down to the AHL pushed him to the KHL, and still, he has nothing but glowing things to say about his GM. I’m sure Lou is all business, but by how current and former players talk about him he clearly pays attention to the human side of the business.
Leo’s Decision. Not Lou’s
Komarov was clear right off the hop with his letter. It was his decision to leave for the KHL and not Lou Lamoriello pushing him out the door to clear cap space.
"Let me put the rumors away. I made this decision myself. Nobody else did it for me."
It’s easy to see why fans thought Lou was behind the move. Only $1.125 million of Leo Komarov’s contract could be “buried” in the lower league by going to the AHL. Meaning the Isles would still have $1.875 million of his cap hit count. Having the contract terminated meant that the full $3 million cap hit would come off the books.
However, it was Leo’s choice to have the contract terminated so he could play in Russia rather than ride the bus in the AHL.
Remember the Bridgeport Islanders already have five veterans on the roster and only five can play on any given day. So playing time wasn’t guaranteed. Should he go to Russia where he will play in the second-best league or maybe play in the AHL?
It was not Lou Lamoriello forcing him out. Lou clearly wanted to keep Leo around even if that meant tieing up $1.875 million to have him play in the AHL.
He owns: Uncle Leo
Komarov signs the letter: “Uncle Leo” and I freaking love that. He’s fully committed to the nickname he had no idea about just five years ago. Incredible.