Hearts were broken in Brooklyn, New York on Sunday, when Islanders captain John Tavares made his choice. Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas pulled off the biggest signing of the summer when he landed Tavares on July 1, inking him to a seven-year, $77-million contract.
“It just seemed like the fit was right, the timing was right,” Tavares stated after the signing. “I just had that instinct that this was the right thing for me to do.”
While the entire city of Toronto was cheering and already picturing themselves Stanley Cup champion next spring, the Islanders' fanbase was devastated.
However, sorrow appears to be expressed in different ways. Especially when it involves hockey, players, trades and contract signings...
Fans burning jerseys has become a common reaction in the sports world when a star player leaves for another team, and of course, it happened with Tavares as well, as soon as he announced he was leaving for the Maple Leafs.
We get it, fans are upset and have the right to show their displeasure. However, are former teammates allowed to do the same? Arthur Staple of The Athletic has revealed that one Islanders player and former teammate had quite a surprising reaction to the Tavares jerseys being burnt by fans.
"In exchanging texts with a few Islanders players, the reactions ranged from surprise to disbelief. I mentioned to one player that fans were posting videos of burning Tavares jerseys. “Don’t blame them,” was his reply."
While fans - and teammates - were heartbroken about Tavares' decision, it might comfort them to know that Tavares himself was also torn about his choice in the end.
"My gut was just tearing apart, my heart was tearing apart, trying to figure out what I wanted to do," Tavares said at his introductory press conference Sunday in Toronto.
"I knew it would be a little bit of the uncomfortable thing to do," he said, "but I didn't want that to hold me back from taking the chance on a great opportunity."
It will be interesting to see what the reception will be like for Tavares when he makes his return to Long Island... but let's just say so far, signs point to a heated reunion, on and off the ice.