John Tavares

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Tavares Pens Emotional Letter On Leaving Islanders

July 11, 2018 - 4:27 pm
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By WFAN.com

Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares wrote an emotional letter about leaving the Islanders on The Players' Tribune titled: "To the Islanders Faithful."

Tavares' exit drew passionate responses from Isles fans on social media. The 27-year-old center used the platform to set the record straight.

"The first force, you’ve probably heard about," he wrote. "It’s the one bringing me back home: I’ve signed a long-term contract to play for the Leafs. As an Ontario kid, there’s just no two ways about it — this really has been a childhood dream.

But it’s the second force pulling on me that I can’t seem to shake — and it’s the reason why I wanted to write this letter: my real, honest, still-there love for the New York Islanders hockey franchise. And my not wanting to leave."

Tavares spent nine seasons with Islanders, recording 621 points in 669 regular-season games. He served as team captain from 2013 to 2018. 

"You have to understand that the Islanders … they didn’t just draft me, and toss me some skates, and that was that," he wrote. "They also protected me. And I don’t mean “protected me” like I was just some asset, either. They really raised me, in a lot of ways. They protected me like I was family — like I was their own kid."

WFAN host Evan Roberts ranted about Tavares' decision on Monday.

"Whether it's the Yankees, whether it's the Mets, whether it's the Jets, whether it's the Giants, name me a franchise that has dealt with a bigger gut punch than this," the WFAN host said at the start of his show Monday.

"It's almost like he secretly hated the franchise and said, 'How can I hose them as much as I possibly can?" Roberts said. "Oh, I've got this great idea. So I'm going to basically whisper sweet nothings into the organization's ear, to the fans ears, about Belmont, and Brooklyn, and Long Island, and I'm going to wait as long as I possibly can. I'm going to have everybody come to me in LA like I'm a king, and I'm going to make it as painful as I can and then I'm going to leave. But don't worry, I'm going to write a nice letter.' Great! Thanks, bro!"

MORE: Evan Roberts: It's Almost Like Tavares Secretly Hated Islanders

While Tavares' comments will please some of the Isles' fan base, there's no doubt that the debate over his departure will continue to rage on.