All eyes among the free agency market in the NHL were on John Tavares over the past month but the Ontario born Center put all speculation to rest on Sunday as he made the announcement that he will head home and sign a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tavares was considered the top player available in this year’s NHL free agency and one that has been followed closely in the media.
Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs have reportedly agreed to a long term deal that is seven years and $77 million dollars. Tavares said that being able to play for Toronto was a “Childhood dream” and was where he wanted to play hockey.
Tavares announced the signing on his Twitter account (@91tavares), stating “I’m thrilled to be starting a new chapter of my career and life in Toronto with the MapleLeafs. I feel very fortunate to come join a team with a great young core and play where I grew up learning and loving the game. I can’t wait to get started!” Tavares posted a image of himself as a child, sleeping in a bed with the bedding of the Toronto Maple Leafs, saying “Not everyday you can live a childhood dream”.
Tavares has played his entire career with the New York Islanders and many believed that he would resign with the team. Earlier this week, Tavares narrowed the teams he was still considering and the New York Islanders were one of those teams. The teams suspected to be in the running for the Tavares lottery were the Islanders, Maple Leafs, Sharks, Stars, Lighting and Bruins. Prior to announcing his signing with the Maple Leafs, Tavares took to Twitter to let the fans of New York know that he greatly appreciated his time in the Big Apple.
Tavares called the decision to choose Toronto over New York, the toughest decision of his life and stated that the time he spent in New York will always be a special part of his life. He thanked the organization, the fans, his teammates and the City of New York for his time with the New York Islanders.
It is believed that the New York Islanders offered more money to retain Tavares but he went against the grind, going home to Toronto for less money. Tavares is going home to be the hero in his hometown. The Maple Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967 and Tavares wants to be the one to turn that streak around. Tavares is coming off a very good 2018 campaign where he scored 37 goals and 84 points with the New York Islanders. He will now be on the 2nd best scoring offense in the NHL from 2018.
Tavares will be 28 years old in September and has been in the NHL since 2009, when he was the first overall selection in the 2009 NHL Draft. Tavares is a five time All-Star in the NHL. Tavares spent nine years with the Islanders as their captain and will now head home, north of the border, to attempt to lead this team to a Stanley Cup!