Islander fans finally have closure with John Tavares
It took almost eight months to the day but the Islanders 6-1 victory over John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs was an important game for a myriad of reasons; The most obvious was that this marked the return of John Tavares to Nassau Coliseum for the first time since he spurned the Isles for Toronto on July 1st.
The more pressing issue is that with each game the Islanders come closer and closer to reaching the playoffs, but only five points separated them and the outskirts of the playoffs. The Islanders got the job done, gained two points on the second place Capitals, and cushioned their lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins to seven points.
The game at the Coliseum was an absolute circus. You had people tailgating hours before sharing drinks, running over Tavares jerseys with their cars, burning them in a fire pit, and everything in between. You had every variation of Traitor or Snake on all of the 91 uniforms. You had signs stating everything from “We Don’t Need You” to “JT Wet the Bed”. You also had this;
It was a creative effort by Islanders fans overall and it was a very fun atmosphere to be a part of. In addition to all of the modified jerseys, signs, and other efforts to rattle Tavares’ cage, you also had a couple of plastic snakes thrown on the ice pre-game, a jersey thrown at Tavares, and tons of creative chants. It was a relatively civil game and could have gotten a lot worse. Here are some of the chants the Islanders fans put together on Thursday night;
- We Don’t Need You
- JT Sucks
- That’s Our Captain (in reference to Lee after his goal)
- Who’s Your Daddy
- You Can’t Beat Us
- Where’s Your Jammies
- It’s Your Bedtime
Islander fans did not take kindly to Tavares’ tribute video at 10 minutes of the first period. It didn’t matter, as his former teammates gave him stick taps and he saluted the crowded despite the hostile reactions. The boos were so loud that they actually muted the fans on TV so you could hear the tribute.
At the end of the day, it was closure for Islanders fans. They got their fun out of the way, they blew the Maple Leafs out, Tavares didn’t have a point, and they showed that Islander fans are some of the most passionate in sports. At the end of the day, it’s still a regular season game that was important for both teams.
This should end the extreme hostility for John Tavares. It will never be right in their books, but the wounds will fade slowly but surely. Will Tavares ever be welcomed back on the Island? No but I think he knows the decisions that he made and how it would affect the fanhood on Long Island. John Tavares is not welcome on Long Island, but we don’t need him.
- Brock Nelson looked like a man possessed. He had a goal and an assist but he was everywhere on the ice. He may have been one of the reasons why Lou Lamoriello didn’t pull the trigger on any potential deals. Maybe he’s due for an extension before he becomes a UFA
- Ryan Pulock is slowly but surely becoming the Islanders most reliable defender. He looks poised on both ends of the ice, is constantly jumping into the play on offense, and has shut down a lot of the top forwards in the game over the past two months
- Robin Lehner was excellent again. It didn’t seem like he made 34 saves but he did, and looked poised throughout. The lone goal he gave up was a fluky goal where the puck bounced right to Zach Hyman with an open net and Lehner was laying on the ground.
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