What sort of reception will John Tavares receive from New York Islanders fans on February 28?
Darren Dreger had a Tuesday afternoon radio hit on Toronto’s TSN 1050.
Host Andi Petrillo gave a lengthy preamble to Dreger’s first question of the segment, which basically involved the premise of a possibly unfavorable reaction from Islanders fans during a potential video tribute to their former captain in his return at the end of the month.
Tavares signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agency.
Dreger was asked if this sort of animosity-based reception - were it to happen - would be the first time he could remember where a player got a tribute and was booed.
“Yeah, I can’t recall off the top of my head the last time it happened - certainly a player of this stature,” reflected Dreger. “And look, I understand why we talk about it, because social media draws this to the forefront and our job is to talk about what is pertinent, especially when it comes to a Toronto Maple Leaf player. But the reason that these fans have a voice in any of this is because of Twitter, is because of social media. Who cares what they think.
“At the end of the day, John Tavares, like every other player - we’re talking about Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel on a daily basis almost hourly - they’ve earned their right to pending unrestricted free agency. John Tavares was as loyal a New York Islander as you’re ever going to find. He poured his heart and soul into that organization. And I don’t know, maybe Garth Snow didn’t do enough to surround John Tavares with better players to give that fan base legitimately something to cheer for in terms of a true Stanley Cup contender. If they want to piss and moan now, who cares? Who cares?
“Tavares - will he be disappointed if that’s the case that he actually gets booed during a tribute video? Yeah, I mean he’s human. There’s a part of him that isn’t going to like it and he’s going to be deeply disappointed. But that’s going to be fleeting, and then he’s going to jump onto the ice and he’s going to score a magnificent goal or help somebody else do it. That’s just the compete in John Tavares. He’s not going to let that kind of outside noise bother him.
Petrillo was surprised at the level of vitriol still remaining in some fans toward Tavares.
“There’s no way that Pat Brisson wouldn’t have equipped John Tavares for all of it. For all of it,” noted Dreger. “It was a very difficult decision.
“Maybe the fan base would have been appeased if Lou Lamoriello would have pushed harder knowing - and this is one thing that I’ve learned of late. Even though Tavares didn’t make his final decision until July 1, everyone tightly involved in the process knew he was going to the Maple Leafs. So if that were the case, maybe Lou Lamoriello should have pushed hard and found a way to trade his rights before July 1, whatever, to try and get something of value out of the Toronto Maple Leafs to make a deal happen.
“But all of that is water under the bridge now.”
Contract-related info via CapFriendly