John Tavares made his first return to Long Island since signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night and the Islanders fans did everything they could to get into his head early on into the night.
From bashing Tavares during the pre-game tailgate to booing him and throwing jerseys and plastic snakes at him, the Islanders fans came fully prepared to make Tavares’ return a nightmare for both he and the Maple Leafs. Even during the video tribute the fans didn’t hold back as they went on to boo him during the entirety of the video and after it wrapped up when he saluted the crowd.
Following the game Tavares was asked about the hostile reception he received in his return and a lot of it didn’t really surprise him.
“I expected it was coming. No one’s walked in my shoes. I know that and I just tried to be open and honest and, obviously, no one has to like my decision but I just tried to explain what it is and how I got to that point, so it is what it is. I’ve moved forward, so just going to try to go out there and play.”
While Tavares was answering the question someone in the background decided to yell “John, you suck!” but being the pro that he is he didn’t even flinch and kept going with his answer.
Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck spent many years as Tavares’ teammate and thinks the fans should have at least given him some sort of applause after the tribute, but he also understands where they’re coming from and why they decided to keep booing.