In the spring of 2017 John Tavares would tell a group of people at a local Manhasset bar that he was moving from Manhasset to Garden City “so to be closer to Belmont”. 

It is one of the items that haunts me and likely haunts some of his former teammates these days in the smoking wreckage of the NY Islanders free agency period. 

It is one of the items that burn the many who rode through the rocky season in the hopes he was onboard the future. Because he always said the right things. 

The NY Islander management and staff were always taken in by this. They were very sure that his future was tied to the Belmont RFP. 

Except when the Belmont RFP finally came, he still didn’t sign. 

But he said all the right things. Just as he said when he wasn’t traded last trade deadline. Isles owners had to make a decision on whether they would deal him to gain something OR not to on the hope he would remain…

Because he said all the right things. 

This is despite knowing that after two seasons of unexpected struggle under a playoff directive that they could not afford to let him walk away and be left empty-handed. 

And when fans clamored and with no assurance from their best player, these owners panicked thinking that bringing in more expertise would perhaps give Tavares more reason to stay.

Because he said all the right things. 

I’ve told a story a few times on twitter and then again in a blog about the time Jack Capuano was unraveling in the heat of the 2016-2017 season, where he vocalized his fears on Tavares. He told Doug Weight he was concerned on the effect JT’s girlfriend would be when it came time for free agency because she wasn’t that thrilled to be on Long Island. 

Family and future is always a large facet to any longterm deal for any player. 

But he said all the right things. 

What we have learned is that saying all the right things does not mean all the right things. 

It does not indicate truth or intent. It is merely a distraction to remove the question that filled all of our hearts…

To only discover John Tavares had no room for us in his. 

He said all the right things to remove that ever-growing tension. 

So, that when the tension reached its peak, our worst fear realized as he fulfilled his own dream. And he didn’t need to feel bad about it…  

Because he said all the right things.

And that is what haunts us. Because saying the right things and not meaning them is duplicitous. We were all complicit in that duplicity because we heard what we wanted instead of seeing what we needed: commitment. 

There was never any commitment. Just words that now trickle through our empty hands. 

He is now a prime example and an exclamation mark to the long meandering rollercoaster that the NY Islanders and their fans have gone through for over 20 years. A terrible reminder that all is still not well and settled for the team and the situation. 

One day that is going to change. Where we are finally able to walk off that ride and have normalcy. Where the team, organization, and fan base gets respect.  

So, when we hear all the right things, players can actually fucking mean it.