The Leafs weren’t just my first hockey love. They were basically my first human memory.
That’s how John Tavares describes Doug Gilmour’s wraparound overtime goal against the St. Louis Blues during the Maple Leafs magical playoff run in the 1992-93 season in a letter thanking New York Islanders fans and explaining his decision to play for Toronto.
“I’ll never forget it: May 3rd, 1993,” wrote Tavares, who wasn’t even 3 years old at the time but could still recall Bob Cole’s play-by-play of the goal.
“Gilmour — back of the net . . . Andreychuk in front with Borschevsky … and there is Gilmour, waiting, waiting . . . around the net, waiting … HE’S OPEN!! GILMOUR — SOLO JOB . . . AND HE’S WON IT!!”
Tavares, 27, tweeted Wednesday that the last nine seasons for the Islanders “meant more to me than words can describe.” So he wrote 4,228 words in the Players’ Tribune trying to do just that.
“I gave it all that I had . . . and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for how you gave me all that you had in return,” Tavares wrote.
The long-time Islanders captain took fans on his journey on Long Island from the lean early seasons to his favourite on-ice moments including their playoff win over Florida.
He shared the craziness in Montreal when he was picked No. 1 overall in the 2009 draft, and made sure to thank past teammates, coaches and general manager Garth Snow.