The biggest drama surrounding the Islanders' visit to Toronto on Thursday may not be the game itself, but those five minutes when John Tavares faces another round of interrogation from the largest and peskiest press corps in the NHL. Tavares will handle the Toronto media like the gentleman he was raised to be, but there will be plenty left unsaid. For example: It's almost a certainty that Tavares will go the Steven Stamkos route, and exercise his right to speak with other NHL franchises when the "listening" period for unrestricted free agents opens in late June. While the return to part-time play at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is wonderful, there are the bad optics and awkwardness of playing the next three seasons in two home arenas - with 29 games in 2018-19 as lame duck tenants in Brooklyn. Neither are NHL-caliber venues. At the earliest, the Islanders' new arena in Elmont will not open until the fourth season of the expected eight-year contract he would sign to stay with the franchise. Tavares has always said the right things, going back to when a few Canadian reporters refused to believe he'd sign with the Islanders if they drafted him first overall in 2009. He will again on Thursday.
Facing free agency, Tavares will stick-handle gracefully around Toronto media
SNY TV | Feb 21