Toronto Maple Leafs superstar John Tavares (I still get excited reading that) penned a farewell letter to New York Islanders earlier today titled, “To the Islanders Faithful.”
Check out some of the juiciest quotes from his heartfelt letter below.
On how difficult it was to make his decision:
Because it was at that moment, I think, that it finally just hit me. It finally just hit me that I’d taken all the meetings. I’d weighed out all the pros and cons. I’d had all of the conversations with family and friends. It hit me that I’d slept on it … showered on it … eaten on it … flown across the country on it … and now I’d paced around the pool on it more times than I could count. It hit me, in other words, that I had done everything there was to do except make a decision.
I don’t even mean that I couldn’t /decide/ — because I think at some point that morning, I had decided. Deep down, I think I’d come to realize where I was going to play hockey next season. But there’s /deciding/ … and then there’s /making a decision./ And it was that very last part that — man. For some reason, I just literally, physically could not do it.
On his lifelong love affair with the Leafs franchise:
My first time in Maple Leaf Gardens, I think I was six years old — so it was probably around the winter of ‘96. And I just remember walking in … and being speechless. Like, truly speechless — you could have knocked me over with a feather. I was in total awe. You’re going through these hallways … seeing all this memorabilia from the ‘50s and ‘60s … all of these banners, and the old team portraits, and the action shots — and then of course the iconic images of those guys lifting the Cup. There’s almost this, like … /glow/ to it, that you can’t really explain. The whole thing felt holy. It was like going to church.
That first trip to Maple Leaf Gardens, with my mom and my dad — that was the day when I think I first sort of saw my future.
On being labelled “Pajama boy” by Islanders fans who mocked him for his social media post on the day he was signed.
Well, Tavares owns up to it fully:
You know, guilty as charged. And I absolutely deserve every bit of ribbing that I got on that one: I had the pajamas, I had the bedsheets, the blankets, the pillow cases. Man, it was just — it was an absurd, obsessed amount of Leafs stuff. And it was the time of my life.
Finally, Tavares officially apologized to Islanders fans for failing to live up to expectations in Long Island:
I want to apologize, from the bottom of my heart, for things not working out — and for the fact that, under my captaincy, we fell short of our ultimate goal. But I gave it all that I had … and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for how you gave me all that you had in return.
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Source: John Tavares
Photo Credit: Zuma Press