Captain John Tavares to the Rescue
"JOHN TAVARES! JOHN TAVARES! JOHN TAVARES!" This has been a familar chant throughout Islanders nation since the 2008-09 NHL season, a year before the young Canadian phenom ever donned the Islander sweater.
The loyal Islander fans made their way to the Nassau Coliseum that season to watch one of the worst on ice performances in recent NHL history, but the savvy fans knew the future was bright with the overall number one pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Level Draft within their favorite team's grasp. Even though there have been recent hiccups by the Islanders in past drafts, they gave the fans what they wanted and pulled the trigger on John Tavares.
Once the pick was announced the 19,000 plus fans that filled the Coliseum floor exploded. And now a short four NHL seasons later, according to Newsday's Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday), the Islanders will be naming the Ontario native as their 14th captain in franchise history early next week.
John Tavares has quickly changed the atmosphere in and outside of the locker room with one of the best qualities of a true Captain; leading by example.
JT came into the league after dominating the OHL for four seasons and seemed to be over matched. He wasnt strong with the puck, he looked weak, and his speed wasn't there. Throughout his rookie campaign Tavares seemed to be improving on all of these qualities and more; something that can be attributed to being taken under the wing of then Captain Doug Weight.
If you have to learn from somebody why not learn from a U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer and one of the greatest American born hockey players of the last 30 years. With Weight staying on with the Isles as an assistant coach and special advisor to the GM the duos relationship has stayed strong.
Over the short term of JT's career he has forged special bonds with more contemporary players on the ice, and they have all seemed to fall in line behind the young skillful center.
He has turned Matt Moulson into a prolific goal scorer during 5 on 5 play, but especially the power play. Josh Bailey is starting to come into his own. Kyle Okposo plans to build on his success late in the season last year. Even though Lubomir Visnovsky may be the elder statesmen of the defense, he looks to JT for help with the young guys like Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald, and the rest of the now that the most recent captain Mark Streit jumped ship to Philadelphia.(oethreads/Flickr)
New addition Cal Clutterbuck, Tavares' old linemate in Oshawa (OHL), could be placed on the on the top line to add some physicality and protect his old buddy.
All of these factors, including Tavares' own production on the ice which has increased every season, made it an easy choice for Garth Snow and Jack Capuano to name him captain.
Now that taget is cemented on John's jersey in the form of a "C", it will be interesting to watch if he can prove the Islander's brass did the right thing. Sure he cannot do it all like stop shots that Evgeni Nabokov should be stopping and suring up a suspect defensive unit, but if his strong play and leadership continues #91 could be hanging in the rafters along side some other banners.