|"And then he said 'no one really takes you seriously'"|
John Tavares, the New York Islanders' star forward, found himself on the receiving end of Paul Grant's latest rant, which was based off of a multitude of excuses for Tavares' success during the 2013 NHL Season. As Islanders' fans noticed immediately - the first line read, "Poor John Tavares. Being the best player on the New York Islanders is like being the best musician in One Direction: No one really takes you seriously." - Paul Grant, like the rest of ESPN, hasn't paid much attention to the Islanders, or the rest of the NHL, since 2009.
Anyways, the 403-word piece did no justice to the Islanders or John Tavares. As a matter of fact, the piece did everything it could to continuously bring the Islanders and John Tavares down. Today, we find all of the flaws in this *grinds teeth* piece of literature.
In the opening paragraph of Mr. Grant's piece, Paul attempts to explain that John Tavares is the real-deal, but has suffered through four atrocious seasons on Long Island.
"Poor John Tavares. Being the best player on the New York Islanders is like being the best musician in One Direction: No one really takes you seriously. But Tavares is legitimate, the first-overall pick from 2009 showing one way or another, season after season, that he doesn't care that people think the Islanders are a joke and that he should have demanded a trade at some point in his four laugh-riot seasons."I would agree with Paul if not being taken "seriously" meant being nominated as a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy, and as an ESPY Award (ha) finalist for Best NHL Player of the Year. Yes, even the out-of-touch-from-hockey ESPN, Paul's very own employer, gave Tavares the nod, but Paul seems to be four years behind - evident by his labeling of the Islanders as a "joke," and their impressive playoff appearance as one of "four laugh-riot seasons" in his paragraph's concluding sentence.
Paul continues with his rant, coming up with some well-thought out points about why John Tavares succeeded in 2013 on this "joke" of an Islanders' team. And by well-thought out, I mean he has no idea what he's talking about.
"The lockout-shortened season seemed to be just what Tavares needed. Young players eventually get burned out by the heavy-duty drag that is the NHL season, especially when coming off the shorter seasons in junior. Last season, Tavares managed to maintain his point-a-game pace, putting the pedal down without hesitation, no doubt revitalized by having a bit of a break entering his fourth season and not having to meet full-season expectations. In some ways, it was like an OHL season all over, what with fewer games and no travel outside your time zone. As a result, Tavares had more time and success on the power play, his shooting percentage was much higher and he almost managed to get his plus/minus above sea level on the traditionally defensively submerged Islanders. And, along the way, he made the Islanders into an exciting team to watch that scared the bejeebers out of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round.I suppose four seasons at the NHL-level equals "coming off the shorter seasons in junior" because, I forgot, this was Tavares' first rodeo. Not only is Tavares going on five years removed from junior hockey, Paul, but Tavares didn't take any time off during his extended offseason; in fact, Tavares spent plenty of time traveling "outside of his time zone" before the 2013 season, as he played in Switzerland for three months while the NHL and NHLPA continuously stumbled over themselves. But you're right, Paul....nobody can argue with ignorance.
But wait! There's more. Somehow, John Tavares is also constantly distracted by his team's General Manager, Garth Snow, because he has things "up his sleeve."
"You just never know what GM Garth Snow has up his sleeve, and that's got to be distracting for a young leader coming into his own. Regardless, Snow should do the right thing and make Tavares the next Islanders' captain, which is well-earned but will add extra weight to Tavares' already heavy burden. Also worth keeping an eye on is whether the Islanders will have an overachievers' hangover from last season or take the next step in their development and storm their way into the playoffs instead of sneaking in the side door."What goes on, Paul? I mean, thanks for being the moral compass in all of this, pointing Garth Snow in the right direction for choosing a captain, but you're jumping around an awful lot here. While you claim Garth Snow, the man who signed John Tavares to a six-year extension (because of Tavares' disdain for him), to be a distracting figure on Long Island, you do realize that Garth Snow has developed quite a supporting cast around the team's future captain, yes? And while Garth Snow is as "unpredictable" as they come (he's actually really predictable), he has done a great job consistently retaining his own players by signing them to affordable, long-term extensions, while sifting through the NHL's waiver-wire to find roster-gold.
Last, but not least, we couldn't possibly end this one without a reminder of the "circus" on Long Island either, right, Paul?
"Realignment won't challenge the Islanders more than they were already -- adding the Washington Capitals to the division is about it -- so they can't use that as an excuse. Regardless, Tavares will maintain his solid production amid the constant circus that is Long Island. (Brooklyn will really dig this kid, so 2014-15 could be an even bigger season.) Look for him to again hit the point-a-game pace of his past two seasons."I remember when I tried to get in on the fun six years too late. Apparently, the circus left town years ago because players who come to Long Island seem content with staying a bit longe. Ask respected NHL veterans Evgeni Nabokov and Lubomir Visnovsky, who were both initially swayed against the Islanders because, from an outside perspective, the type of drivel that was posted on the morning of July 24th, 2013 is the fuel to a media-created firestorm of negativity.
Not all is lost, however. At least we could agree on one thing: after all of the nonsense, Tavares should hit his point-PER-game pace.
Never change, ESPN.
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!