Something about Islanders-Maple Leafs matchups in the post-Tavares era brings out the crazy in Toronto and assorted random media and punditry.
Last night, Islanders fans did what any rational fanbase would do: continue to give it to their former key player who bailed — and yet once again, Toronto media and Whatever The Hell You’re Supposed to Call Paul Miss-the-nette acted like there were 17,000 Islanders fans (except when you want to mock attendance) out there to kick Tavares’ dog and make his children cry.
Fans can boo opponents. They can give old friends a hard time. ESPECIALLY when there’s a history there, a feeling of betrayal or rejection. And ESPECIALLY ESPECIALLY when talking heads who don’t pay two shits’ attention to the Isles the rest of the year come ‘round to say you shouldn’t do that, you should just thank and cheer and love a guy for even bothering to stick around as long as he did.
In a league of mythical warriors, where you're expected to fight through injury, to stand up for yourself, to gut it out, ignore pain and be a tough-guy-cliche machine, some giant men...cannot handle their pet player being booed. https://t.co/86GOI8mEdz— Lighthouse Hockey - @lhhockey.bsky.social (@LHHockey) December 12, 2023
Some fans will carry a seething bitterness toward John Tavares and that is their right, absolutely (and how is that right even a question? This is sports, people). Others will say aww, that’s a little harsh, maybe let up a little. (And fans have; they have definitely let up.) For me, he was a nice guy, poorly advised, rarely engaging, inadvertently tone-deaf and ultimately unsatisfying, so I no longer hold strong emotions for the player himself; it’s the external media and chastisers who bring out the venom in me.
How dare they tell us not to boo the guy? (He’s a pro athlete who has handled much worse.)
How dare they tell us to celebrate his career individual milestone when the puck bouncing off his leg was part of us losing the lead with six seconds left in regulation?
Anyway, I think most of us just knew he’d reach 1,000 points on this night; the only question was if it would be two monumentally important points or if they’d be made meaningless by a loss. Turns out thanks to the NHL’s points system, we got both!
Losing a one-goal lead (again) so late, with a carom off Tavares’ leg that made it his 1,000th point, only for it to be rendered moot just minutes after the entire Leafs bench awkwardly cleared to mob him, was just perfect. Well done, hockey gods — you scripted it more appropriately than even us fatalist fans could’ve imagined.
- Recaps: LHH | THN | Post
- The Maven: Isles finally getting things done in overtime. [THN]
- Three Takeaways: The Isles are feeling confident in their game right now. [Isles]
- For Tavares, perfect that this impressive milestone came on Long Island. For Isles fans, perfect that the recognition was understandably booed, coming between regulation and OT right after it robbed them of a regulation win. [Post]
- Arthur Staple nails it as usual. Should Isles fans not boo Tavares? Let’s ask his longtime buddy, Cal Clutterbuck: “No!” Clutterbuck said, laughing. “Are you joking? It’s New York sports. They can hold a grudge.” [Athletic]
- His former teammates are happy for him...or at least impressed. [AM NY]
- The Skinny: It was seven-game-points-streak-holder Bo Horvat’s sixth career overtime goal but his first as an Islander ... Tavares is the sixth player in NHL history to notch his 1,000th regular season point against a former team. [Isles]
- Apparently the key to an improved power play is now “swagger.” [Newsday]
Just a beautiful, poetic game. They wouldn’t be the islanders if they didn’t allow the 1000th point.— Michael Leboff (@TheBigLeebowski) December 12, 2023
Then watching the leafs clear the bench to celebrate an individual milestone and then 30 seconds later watch the isles do it to celebrate a win. Magnifique. https://t.co/jSaoV9ivt6
- Erik Gudbranson was suspended one game for jumping a guy who checked him from behind and stayed the game. [NHL]
- David Perron was suspended six games for attacking the wrong guy who did not injure his teammate. [NHL]
- And that wasn’t the only violence over the weekend! Something in the NHL water... [Sportsnet]
- I know you can’t get anything interesting out of John Tavares, but man the media do him no favors when they relay dull quotes like this, about his dad on the dads’ trip: “You know, I’m sure you guys always see me walking around with my backpack. He’s got his backpack, too. So, you see where that comes from.” [Sportsnet]
Tune in Wednesday night to watch the same “classless” Islanders fans give Ross Johnston - he of 24 points in 134 games on Long Island - a rousing ovation of appreciation as he returns as a member of the Anaheim Ducks.— Dan (@cultureoflosing) December 12, 2023