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I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore; Toronto Media edition

Maybe if the Toronto media stopped their love fest with John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs for just a second, they’d see what’s really going on here.  Yes folks, there is a game tonight between the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto.  The more anticipated matchup at Nassau Coliseum won’t be until February 28th, and trust me there will be plenty written about that.

Maybe it’s the absurd takes on Tavares and the Islanders, maybe I’m just in a feisty mood today, or maybe it’s because the Toronto media is so delusional to the point where I need to say something, but I need to say something.  I took the bait.  I am mad online and I don’t care, because these things need to be said.

My biggest problem with how Toronto as a whole is treating the Islanders is that for 25+ years they couldn’t care less.  Minus the occasional hot streak, the one playoff series win, and any mention of the dynasty years, and it was like the Islanders weren’t even a professional hockey team.  They are and will continue to be the red-headed stepchild of the NHL, at least in Toronto’s mind.

That’s what’s so baffling about this.  These media members talk about the Islanders and the Tavares situation like they’ve been sitting in the stands of Nassau Coliseum for the past decade.  Before this summer, they probably didn’t know anyone on the team not named John Tavares.

There are many issues with how the Toronto media is handling tonight’s matchup and all the storylines surrounding it, but these are the three main focal points that have been stuck in my craw;

John Tavares wasted away on Long Island and is now flourishing in Toronto

Probably the hottest take I’ve seen in quite some time, apparently JT was just sitting there on Long Island biding his time scoring 35 points a year while waiting to move to Toronto.  The patron son of Toronto was on his way eventually, and everything he did as an Islander didn’t count because they never sniffed a Stanley Cup.

So I guess the near miss at the Art Ross Trophy (thanks to Jamie Benn’s empty netter), the first franchise playoff series win in 23 seasons, the revitalization of hockey on Long Island and the constant success on and off the ice for John Tavares is considered a waste of time?  What was Toronto doing for the past ten years?

A lot of Did Not Qualifies, no?  (Photo Credit; Wikipedia)

Although Tavares didn’t always have the talent around him that he deserved, he had plenty of good seasons and some great linemates as well.  Josh Bailey and Anders Lee are perennial All-Stars now, and although it took Bailey six plus seasons to find his role on the Islanders he is now flourishing in it.  Lee is on pace for his usual 35-40 goals.  Tavares meanwhile has 44 points this season, four less than he had last season wasting away with the Islanders.  He’s on a line with young superstar Mitch Marner, and although he absolutely is flourishing now that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t flourishing with less talent on Long Island.

The Islanders will be lost forever without John Tavares

Realistically, when Lou Lamoriello made all those questionable depth forward moves immediately after Tavares bolted for Toronto, things didn’t look good.  However, this is all part of a larger plan, and although we don’t know what the end game is we do know that Lou was always looking for high character guys in the locker room to help mentor the young stars.  I did agree with Toronto media then that the Islanders may be headed back in the wrong direction, but the fact that they’re still harping on this point is obnoxious.

Look, before Tavares even became remotely available in free agency the Toronto media maybe wrote about the Islanders a handful of times.  Anders Lee and his 40 goals every season are still begin ignored, Thomas Greiss and Robin Lehner having stellar seasons will never be talked about, and forget about Barry Trotz being considered a candidate for the Jack Adams trophy.  The Islanders will fade eventually, the Leafs will win the Stanley Cup, yada yada yada.

I’ve had enough of this slander.  Are the Islanders a better team with John Tavares?  Absolutely, but on the flip side if they did sign him and didn’t get close to a Stanley Cup within the next four seasons, the back end of that contract would be the only thing Toronto media talked about.  You can’t have it both ways, Toronto.  Regardless, the Islanders aren’t as talented without Tavares but they’ve become a better team.  They’ve used his departure as motivation for success, similar to how Vegas used their misfit group of toys mentality to spring themselves to the Stanley Cup.

The Islanders have a legitimately bright future with Mat Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey, Josh Ho-Sang, Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, Devon Toews, Ryan Pulock.  The list goes on and on and on.  Will all of these youngsters pan out?  Who knows, but at least they have the pieces in place to succeed with a Stanley Cup winning coach and a GM whose had success for two decades.

Islander fans need to get over Tavares leaving and stop being angry

No Toronto, you need to stop making ridiculous claims like the two above before Islander fans need to stop being angry.  The burning of the jerseys was a little much as those jerseys could have gone to charity, could have been modified, etc.  However, the fans have every right to be angry still, just like Tavares had every right to make his decision to move on from the Island.

Toronto media is treating it like Islander fans are somehow being petty about Tavares leaving, when in all honesty pettiness is a two way street.  Tavares stressed over and over for months that he wanted to be on Long Island and wanted things to work out.  He lauded the new ownership, said he was looking forward to working with Lou and Trotz, and asked he not be traded at the trade deadline.  He hamstrung the Islanders into thinking he was staying, then bolted for Toronto and left the Islanders fan with a half-hearted iPhone note and a new avatar of him as a kid in his Maple Leafs feety pajamas.

The Islanders were caught with their pants down because in no way, shape, or form should they have let Tavares essentially hold them hostage for months.  However, Tavares shouldn’t have said or done the things he said and did if he truly didn’t want to stay.  Both were wrong, and Islander fans have every right to still be upset.  It’s still a fresh wound and this is the first game the Isles will play against Toronto.

Let’s put it this way;  You come home Christmas morning after months of planning with your significant other and all that’s left under the tree is a half-assed note thanking you for being a good person.  Then you get a package in the mail about a month later fully explaining why they left, how much you mean to them, and how you really hope there’s no hard feelings.

Toronto media doesn’t understand, and never will understand, the bond that the Islanders have with their fans.  These fans are passionate, gritty, and intense.  The amount of charity work the players do in the communities is amazing, and they’ve become the fabric of the communities they live in.  Even though it was a business decision from Tavares, it felt personal because of the connection fans thought they had with him and the team.


Sorry for the long rant, but this was an important one to write.  I absolutely hold ill will towards John Tavares and look forward to hopefully beating a very good Maple Leafs team.  He is an exceptional player, and from what I’ve heard a very good person off the ice.  However, most Islander fans will never forgive him for HOW he left, and the Toronto media will never understand that.  They think it’s pettiness that’s driving fans, when really it’s more of a pride thing.

Maybe one day when new captain Anders Lee hopefully lifts the Stanley Cup over his head the Islanders will be fairly represented in Toronto.  Until then, they’ll just have to take their lumps as a forgotten franchise, one that wasted the talents of Toronto’s prodigal son.  It’s not so bad being a constant underdog though.  They’ve been doing it this entire season.


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