Good riddance to John Tavares
The sun shined on Monday, and the sky did not fall. We all got up alive to start the work week.
This backdrop should say life goes on and we move on to other things when it comes to players leaving for free agency or when teams trade or release players. Such is life in pro sports.
For Cleveland Cavaliers fans dealing with LeBron James taking his talents to Tinseltown by signing a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, it is easy for them to move on since they saw him deliver a championship to a city that has had a 52-year championship drought.
The Islanders fans can’t say the same thing. They feel jilted that Islanders captain John Tavares signed a seven-year, $77 million deal with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs Sunday afternoon. As expected, they savaged the former Islanders star on Twitter, message boards and blogs for reneging on his word about being committed to staying in Long Island during the season.
They are going to be salty for a long time since Tavares did not lead the Islanders to a championship and he won’t be doing it under new general manager Lou Lamoriello and new head coach Barry Trotz. Think of them as Cavaliers fans who were mad at James when he made his first decision to take his talents to the South Beach by signing with the Miami Heat in 2010.
They should get over it. It’s not like Tavares won anything here. He was a loser in his nine forgettable years. The Islanders stink with him, and they can stink without him. It’s not like the Islanders traded Pat LaFontaine, who accomplished more than Tavares ever did here.
If his best moment with the Islanders was winning one playoff series in his tenure there and if his lone signature moment was scoring the game-winning goal in double overtime that helped the Islanders go to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993, then he was useless in his time here.
When the Islanders drafted him as the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, they envisioned him leading them to many playoff appearances. They expected to be there every year. They did not sign up for him leading them to three playoff appearances and 10 playoff wins.
If Tavares is allegedly a great player, he would have given the Islanders much better moments than what he did. He will be forgotten in this town, and it’s not like anyone here even knew him in the first place. That’s the way it goes when he accomplished nothing here.
If he is a great player, he would finish the job with the Islanders rather than take the easy way out and playing with Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews. He is no better than NBA’s Kevin Durant.
Face it. Tavares mailed it in this season. There were nights he did not seem to care, and there were nights he came up empty when the Islanders needed wins in January, February and March. He was biding his time until free agency came. His impending free agency turned out to be a distraction than he and the Islanders would admit.
There’s no question the Islanders management failed Tavares in drafting better players, but great players should make marginal players better. He never did here.
It’s pointless to second-guess failed Islanders general manager Garth Snow for not trading Tavares in the trade deadline. Here’s why it was never happening: 1) He was not going to be the guy that will be remembered for trading his star. 2) Being that his job tenure was perilous, he wasn’t going to do his successor any favors by getting anything in return.
It was a no-win situation for the Islanders. Of course, the fans end up being the losers. That’s always the case in the end when things never work out with athletes and management in pro sports.
The Islanders are going to be fine. They have good young players they can build around in Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year) winner Mat Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Ho-Sang. My money is on all three of them stepping up more than than Tavares ever did.
It’s on Lamoriello to build around those guys, and that’s why the Islanders are going to be fine. He knows how to build a team, and he drafts well. Count on him to get a competent goaltender this offseason.
The Islanders had a good offseason because they actually hired guys that know what they are doing in Lamoriello running the franchise and Barry Trotz coaching them. Those guys know how to win.
If Tavares can’t see that, that’s his problem, not Lamoriello or Trotz.
There’s no question Lamoriello’s job got harder, but he embraces this challenge. This is where no one can count him out. The Islanders need to trust him.
Lamoriello’s presence should make Tavares’ job departure easy to take.
The Islanders need guys who know how to win. Tavares never was that guy despite what Islanders fans think. He provided more losing moments than winning moments.
This wasn’t Mike Bossy or Bryan Trottier leaving.
It was Tavares, so it’s easy to move on.