Dear Mr. and Mrs. Tavares,
I am writing to you yet again to share news of yet another accolade your son, John, has received.
No doubt you have grown somewhat accustomed, if not yet tired, to the endless stream of awards and requests for contributions regarding your son. But I assure you that this award, the Lighthouse Hockey Top Islander Under Age 25, is the toughest recognition in the business.
It is held in such esteem for a couple of reasons:
First, it wasn't long ago that the Islanders did not even have the rights to 25 players under 25 years of age. Usually there would be a few Russians no one ever heard of, plus a few useful North Americans my predecessor would sell by age 22 or 23 due to unverified allegations of sniffing glue or because another, more cocksure replacement 18-year-old was available in the next draft.
Second, this award comes not from John's peers nor from his bosses, but rather the most unstable, hypercritical, self-loathing voting bloc in the business: Islanders fans. To please them unanimously, and consistently, is to walk on water, so help me Bossy.
Furthermore -- and this could count as a third reason, but we'll just fold it into #2 -- this particular group of Islanders fans is the most despicable of the whole lot of them. Some of them don't even live within a day's drive of the Coliseum. Some of them live in enemy territory. Some of them don't even WATCH THE GAME. And some cite sorcery like "Corsi" and "per 60" as if it was scripture from the Book of Trottier itself.
And please, I don't want to get into the abhorrent fiction they get around to creating because they lack anything worthwhile to do better than following Islanders hockey, even during the summer vacation months, even when there is no news but a tenuous tweet that fuels hours of angst about which 14th forward will be a healthy scratch come October.
Please don't misunderstand me: While I can conjure no respect for the housebound agoraphobes -- Howie suggested I use that phrase. Do you like it? -- who are behind this award, I can guarantee you it is a very difficult group to please, and any recognition from them is legit.
In closing, I congratulate you and John for this award, in which your excellent parenting played no small part. I thank you again for letting us borrow your son for the next few Cups in our franchise's future. And I once more applaud your decision to ignore the counsel of those "experts" who said your son was too gifted for the Long Island hockey district and recommended that you take his skills to the Toronto-area system.
Glad we can all laugh about that and leaf those thoughts behind.
May the Frans be with you,
25U25 Spring 2013 Countdown
2. d Travis Hamonic
3. F Ryan Strome
6. F Casey Cizikas
15: d Calvin de Haan
16: F Anders Lee
Thanks to all the panelists, the readers who weighed in or shared their own ballots, and those who collected them for aggregating in this spring's 25U25. You all make this a fun exercise.