It seemed like the best news of all time for the New York Islanders, when it was announced that the team had won a $1 billion development bid to build a new 18,000-seat arena, hotel and other amenities on the grounds of Belmont Park, east of New York City, in late December.
The Islanders, who moved from their suburban home to Brooklyn in 2015, and their fans were on cloud nine. To them and, maybe to management too, it meant that captain John Tavares would be thrilled with the more settled future of the club in New York, and right away entice him to sign a lengthy contract that would keep him with the Islanders for eight or more years to come.
Not so fast. While some details about the Belmont project remain unclear, including when the team will begin playing in the new arena, and whether it will have to find a temporary home after it leaves Brooklyn’s Barclays Center after the 2018-19 NHL season, nothing is set in stone when it comes to Tavares.
Larry Brooks of the New York Post has reported that the way the Islanders are performing right now is not what Tavares expected. Remember: the captain did point out that the future of the team in New York mattered, but he also mentioned the success of the group as a whole. Understandable: the top forward wants to compete for a true Cup contender and probably dreams of retiring with AT LEAST one championship ring around his finger.
The Islanders are currently two points out of the last Wild Card spot in the East, with a total of 42 points. They are also riding a five-game losing streak, while the team's two goalies have surrounded 25 goals during those five contests. Not to point out the "staggering sum of 78 goals (4.33 per) while going 5-11-2 since the beginning of December."
Brooks says it point blank: "Jaro Halak and Thomas Greiss have conspired to allow four or more goals in 13 of the last 17 (six, six times!) and rank next to last in the NHL with a .8913 save percentage, .0002 better than Arizona."
This is not encouraging news for Tavares, who could care less about the arena deal right now.
"And of course, this collapse/descent to the nether regions of the Metro Division again places a high alert on the John Tavares matter. For it’s no longer the arena issue, stupid, it’s the myriad issues on the team."
Isles GM Garth Snow might want to settle an agreement with Tavares before the Feb. 26 trade deadline, or else, the star forward could walk away fro free this summer. The Islanders cannot afford to lose him - but even worse - lose him for nothing!
Come on, look at how good he is: