New York Islanders fans do not miss John Tavares. If you spoke to any Isles fan at this time last year, they would be devastated at the thought of Tavares going elsewhere.
It’s been a tough stretch since the dynasty days of this historic New York Islanders franchise. One playoff series win in the past 25 years, arena shenanigans, and uncertainty in all positions from GM to coach to starting goalie. The Islanders are going into 2019 with a completely different attitude though.
John Tavares was the Islanders captain, franchise player, and one of the league’s best at his respective position. Many fans and teammates thought he was going to be a New York Islander for life, especially after requesting to not be traded before last years trade deadline.
He also never smiled, which was really annoying to be honest.
Islander fans were devastated when JT announced he was going to sign with the Maple Leafs, and many were nervous to see what life would be like without him. Personally, I would always argue that JT was a little overrated, as he would always have stretches where you wouldn’t notice he was on the ice.
The emergence of Mat Barzal gave Islander fans a little hope, but still many would not compare him to the level of stardom JT had. In the game against Toronto, Barzal outshined JT with a natural hat-trick and showed he is the future of this franchise.
Tavares meanwhile had an ugly look of disgust on the bench, and it was a thing of beauty.
Fast forward to the last day of 2018, and the Islanders are 20-13-4, sitting one point out the second wild-card spot with 44 points and a game in hand. This time last season the Isles held a 20-15-4 for 44 points in 39 games.
The defense is better, goaltending is great with Lehner sitting at top of the league in GAA (2.21), and second in the league in save percentage ( .926), ironically second only to Jaro Halak. Many players are contributing, from Brock Nelson to Valtteri Filppula, and the Isles play a ton of home games at the Coliseum in 2019.
The team has an outstanding coach in Barry Trotz, a historic GM in Lou, and a fan-base that has almost completely let the memories of JT out of their head. Things are looking great, and we’re excited for what is ahead.