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Sport John Tavares opens up about leaving Islanders, picking Maple Leafs

00:01  12 july  2018
00:01  12 july  2018 Source:   sportingnews.com

NHL free agency 2018: John Tavares admits 'my heart was tearing apart' leaving Islanders

  NHL free agency 2018: John Tavares admits 'my heart was tearing apart' leaving Islanders An emotional John Tavares said Sunday that it was no easy decision to leave the Islanders and start anew with the Maple Leafs.Remain on Long Island with the Islanders — "a place where I'd been for a long time and helped me become the man I am today," he said — or return home to Toronto to play for the team he grew up rooting for as a child, the Maple Leafs.

Former Islanders franchise center John Tavares is signing a seven-year contract with an average annual value of million with the Toronto Maple Leafs , the team he grew up rooting for.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are allegedly looking to trade a package to the New York Islanders for the rights to talk to Tavares prior Pin. Comment. Could the Toronto Maple Leafs pursue John Tavares this off-season? More from Editor In Leaf . Toronto Maple Leafs : Opening Night Lineup Predictions.

a baseball player wearing a helmet © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited

There are many sides to a high-profile free agent decision. Of course, the fans, who spend weeks on end consuming rumors and insider reports, dreaming up the destinations. But it's also an emotionally charged process for players, who often are considering more than the team that will sign their next paycheck.

John Tavares was the biggest example of the spectacle the NHL has seen in decades. In the two weeks since #TavaresWatch ended, much has been made about the longtime Islanders captain opting to leave for the pull of the Maple Leafs, a team he grew up idolizing. So the Ontario native felt the need to explain the courting process — six teams made pitches to Tavares' camp — and the conflicting forces that made his decision so difficult in an emotional apology to Islanders fans in the Players' Tribune.

NHL free agency 2018: 'Right opportunity, fit, time' led John Tavares home to Maple Leafs

  NHL free agency 2018: 'Right opportunity, fit, time' led John Tavares home to Maple Leafs John Tavares explained Sunday why he decided to sign with his hometown Maple Leafs as a free agent."It really took the right opportunity, the right fit," Tavares told reporters at his introductory press conference Sunday after signing a seven-year, $77 million free agent contract with Toronto . "I though the timing couldn't be beat, and certainly being from here and with where this team is at and how good and young their core players are ... it was just hard to turn down this opportunity.

Going home: John Tavares picks Maple Leafs over Lightning, others. John Tavares needed to post only one picture on his Twitter account to explain the grip the Maple Leafs have had on him since he was a youngster growing up in suburban Toronto.

New York Islanders centre John Tavares (91) defends Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in New York, Monday, Feb. It’s all hypothetical so you need to have an open mind. Have some fun!

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"I know how serious this decision was, and how many people it affected," he wrote in the letter, published Wednesday. "I was given the privilege of some first-rate meetings, with some first-class organizations, the Leafs and the Islanders chief among them. These are amazing franchises, top to bottom — and it meant a lot to me for them to pitch me as potentially being a part of their futures.

"Which is why I want to say this as deliberately and as clearly as possible: In no way had I made up my mind yet, as far as where I was signing, before I took those free-agency meetings. In no way."

Scorned fans — and some in the media — have been critical of Tavares' timing. He was accused of misleading the Islanders, not clearing a midseason trade if his intention was to leave, and dragging out the drama longer than necessary. He defended himself against those claims.

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It was noted in the preview that the New York Islanders were likely to outshoot the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, but for the love of Bossy Islanders News: Free agency opens with Islanders missing one Tavares . What Stan Fischler said about how John Tavares left Islanders "Just wondering, pal."

John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders reaches for the puck in the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Barclays Center on Sunday, Oct. Darryl Sittler grew up on the other side of Ontario but was revered as a “local” boy during his Leaf heyday in the 1970s.

"I know there will still be some people who feel I should have been traded — or asked for a trade at the deadline. (I respectfully disagree. I was Captain of the team, and I took that role seriously)," Tavares wrote. "My focus was on staying in the moment, and doing everything I could to help the Islanders win.) I also know there will still be some people who think I strung everyone along, throughout my free agency, just to get attention. (I didn’t … and if you know me, this one’s pretty funny.)

"And I for sure know there will still be some people who think I signed a wink-wink contract with the Maples Leafs, in secret, on Christmas morning of 1997. (Not true, though for the record I would have if they’d offered.)"

MORE: Islanders faced with bumpy transition — but it's not all bleak

Tavares' letter goes on for 4,286 words. He touches on his earliest memories rooting for the Maple Leafs, including the viral bed photo he shared in announcing the decision July 1. Then he shares an amusing behind-the-scenes story about being locked in a broom closest inside Montreal's Bell Centre after the Islanders selected him No. 1 overall in 2009.

Stanley Cup odds 2019: Maple Leafs new favorites after John Tavares signing

  Stanley Cup odds 2019: Maple Leafs new favorites after John Tavares signing John Tavares and the Maple Leafs are 7-1 favorites to win the 2019 Stanley Cup, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.One day after signing the most sought-after unrestricted free agent in the salary-cap era, the Maple Leafs were installed as favorites to win the 2019 Stanley Cup, according to oddsmakers at Bovada. The Leafs moved from 10-1 to 7-1 odds to win their first championship since 1967, passing the Lightning, who remain at 9-1 to win the Stanley Cup.

Islanders News: Free agency opens with Islanders missing one Tavares . What Stan Fischler said about how John Tavares left Islanders "Just wondering, pal." Matt Martin Returns: Islanders trade Eamon McAdam for an old friend Maybe this will help clear room to sign de Haan to the Leafs .

Share The Complete Encyclopedia of John Tavares telling the Toronto Maple Leafs to get lost [Updated 9/7/17]. tweet. And all this talk about the Canadiens using that cap space to pick up John Tavares is hogwash — you need to have some great players to give to the Islanders if you expect to

Tavares wrote that his decision to sign with the Maple Leafs went deeper than childhood fandom. He mentioned how the Leafs "have a strong, young core that’s accomplished a lot in a short amount of time," referencing Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner. He complimented the braintrust of Kyle Dubas, Brendan Shanahan and Mike Babcock, "great people with an impressive plan for where this team can go — and an exciting vision for how I can be a part of it."

The Islanders missed the playoffs in six out of Tavares' nine seasons. He handed out thank-yous to former general manager Garth Snow and a number of teammates through the years, noting the franchise has a "bright future," even as he moves on. And when it comes to the fanfare and hurt feelings, Tavares said he understands.

"But it’s also important to me that I don’t sell anyone short, here. It’s why I wanted to write this letter in the first place: so that all of you Islanders Faithful really do know how much I cherished our time together. Because I was born in Toronto — and that’s never going to change. But I grew up on Long Island — and now that won’t change, either."

Tavares' remarks can be read in their entirety at the Players' Tribune.

NHL free agent tracker 2018: Latest news, full list of signings, best available players .
John Tavares' decision loomed large in an otherwise unremarkable 2018 NHL free agent class. Sporting News has live updates on contract signings as they pour in.The 2018 NHL free agency period begins Sunday, July 1, at noon ET, and should bring with it a healthy dose of rumors, trades and bone-headed signings that usually accompany the first day of the new league year. Not to mention, this year's class includes perhaps the biggest star to hit the open market in the NHL's salary cap era.

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