Isles star John Tavares leaves for Toronto, barely six months after backing Cuomo at Belmont press conference
|Gov. Andrew Cuomo and John Tavares|
Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Gov. Cuomo
After the January 2007 press conference announcing that Barclays bank had bought naming rights to the Brooklyn arena--more than three years after the Brooklyn arena project was announced--Daily News columnist Bob Raissman wrote wisely:
There was little talk of the Nets' present, which has brought the team front-page headlines: Jason Kidd filing for divorce from his spurned spouse Joumana (aka "Five-O"). Nor was there any chit-chat about Rod Thorn shopping Kidd, Vince Carter, or any other player wearing a Nets uniform. The chance of any of these cats being on the team when it moves to Brooklyn is slim. The chances of the new arena being built on time (for the 2009-10 season) seem slim as well...Indeed, the arena opened in September 2012. Kidd was gone by February 2008, Carter by June 2009.
An Islanders star serves as symbol
|Newsday's back page for today's issue|
Tavares (in photo above right) was on hand last December for a press conference, called by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to announce that a group including the team's owners was selected to build a new arena at the Belmont Park in western Nassau County.
That, of course, was part of Tavares's duties as an Islander, to help obscure a deal for a "privately financed arena" that nonetheless involves significant public help.
But Tavares, who became a free agent, yesterday announced he was signing with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, which leaves the Islanders with no value in return and some bitterness in fans' mouths.
Moves by Islanders not enough
After a disappointing season, team owners hired a new executive, Lou Lamoriello, who proceeded to fire the GM and coach, and to hire a new coach, Barry Trotz.
But that wasn't enough to keep Tavares, and the team--in a two-arena limbo for at least the next three seasons, playing some games at the Barclays Center and others at the Nassau Coliseum--will have to fight harder for relevancy, even after coming in last in attendance in the 31-team league.
Wrote Dominik of Lighthouse Hockey yesterday:
It’s absolutely his right. But the way it went down will always carry a little extra sting for fans. The mismanagement of the franchise for most of his tenure is largely to blame, but his part in leading fans to believe he wanted to make it work provides that extra gut punch.He quoted The Athletic's Arthur Staple (formerly Newday's beat writer):
It’s true that the Isles might not have Lamoriello or Trotz had Tavares signed last offseason. But if he harbored so many doubts about the direction of the team, why not share those with ownership at any point during 2017-18 so the Islanders could move on? Instead, Tavares and his camp asked last summer to be given time and to not be moved, which feels like an unnecessary slap now that he’s moved on for nothing.And the bitterness continues:
Unless you believe Tavares completely shut off all thoughts and emotions about free agency during the season (possible, I suppose), he just doesn't sound sincere when saying that he wasn't thinking about playing anywhere or else until off-season #Isles— IslesBlog (@IslesBlog) July 2, 2018