You should know that I’ve had just about enough of the tweets and reports from people around the country (and Canada) who are still bashing my Islanders fan base in regards to the game against the Maple Leafs last week. Calling us classless, trashy…and way worse. It’s to the point where I have had to, at times, pull myself away from reading the posts to avoid insanity. Now I know why people detox themselves from social media.
While most of you do not come here to read about my hockey fan life, it is a big part of my life and I need a place to vent.
So here’s the deal. If you missed my mention in Friday’s post, John Tavares, the former captain of my Islanders, made the decision not to resign with our team and instead, chose to sign with his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. In really short, basic terms, it’s not that he left, it’s HOW he left. It was a drawn-out process. He asked not to be traded and then dragged out the resigning until deciding, once it was too late for us to get anything in return for him, that he would be going to play for the Maple Leafs.
When this all went down last summer, our passionate fan base was deeply upset and disgusted. It didn’t help AT ALL, in my opinion, that Tavares commemorated his happiness by sharing a childhood photo of himself (on Twitter) asleep in Toronto Maple Leafs bedding, very shortly after the news broke. Clearly, he was not thinking ahead to the material he was providing us. He will now forever be known as Pajama Boy.
Our calendars became instantly marked for the first home game against the Maple Leafs, which finally took place last week.
As a life long Islanders fan growing up with season tickets, this game was ONE OF THE BEST EVER in my Islanders fan life.
Well, for starters, we won 6 – 1.
And also, BECAUSE IT WAS FUN. It was the ultimate fan experience. Sure, we gave the guy hell BUT THIS IS HOCKEY. This is professional sports. This is New York sports. This is what a passionate fan base does and we are as passionate as they come.
We respond. We are loud. We support our team and give the opposing team, and their players, hell when necessary.
WE DON’T NEED YOU!
WHERE’S YOUR JAMMIES?
PAST YOUR BEDTIME!
PLEASE DON’T TRADE ME!
Yes, it was necessary. While the rational side of my brain, of course, understands that professional sports is a business and John Tavares had every right to exercise his options, the emotional fan side of me won’t forget how it went down.
And I do not have to forget. This is not my personal life. This is not how I conduct myself at work, with my friends, or at little league games. This is not my divorce, where I always took the high road, even in those moments when of course I wanted to behave like a scorned fan.
In your personal life, it is important to take the high road. It’s where happiness is your best revenge. It’s where it’s crucial to move on while focusing on yourself, rather than the other people in the situation who you can’t control.
But at a professional sports game? When your captain leaves the way he did? When he never even gave you a Stanley Cup either? Why NOT give him hell? Why not let it all out and come up with creatively funny chants and signs, boo your heart out, and have a really good time while doing it.
While I am not condoning whoever it was that threw the rubber snakes on the ice (at least they weren’t live snakes?) nor do I agree with the fan who threw an old Tavares jersey at John as he made his way off the ice, overall we were just a bunch of fans having some fun. It was all harmless — and of course, we didn’t boo during the Canadian anthem. Some out there thought we might. Come on, really?
Following professional sports is a fans’ escape from the realities of everyday life. It’s our fun and excitement, it’s our time to cheer for our team and sometimes, cheering for our team means bashing the opponent. You can’t (or at least you shouldn’t) behave this way in your personal life, but you can let it all out in sports.
This is nothing new. People are reacting like this was the first time a fan base got loud and creative. I grew up LOVING the games against the Rangers, thrilled over division rival games against the Penguins (and the Maple Leafs during the 2002 playoffs) for all of these reasons. Passion. The chants. The brutality of the rivalry.
Okay fine, this is grabbing attention because it’s totally unusual to torment a former star player relentlessly from pre-game warm-ups until the last whistle…but I do not care that John Tavares was once our captain. Like, thanks for the memories but as Jerry Seinfeld once said, ultimately we root for a jersey. We root for the logo on the shirt. Players change over the years and although most who have moved on to other teams will hold a special place in our hearts forever, the way Tavares left will never be forgotten. Maybe forgiven (using the rational side of my brain), but not forgotten.
For John Tavares, please don’t worry about him. He only has to encounter us a couple of times a year. I’m sure he can handle the boos and the chants. Or maybe he can’t? Maybe that’s why the Mayor of Toronto felt the need to make Saturday “Tavares Day” with a standing ovation during Saturday night’s game simply because he got torn apart by the fans here? HA.
We will probably never stop being relentless during John’s returns (in case you are wondering) because that would ruin our fun. John Tavares still gets his millions, and he still has what he wanted — which is to play for Toronto.
So while the world is hating on our behavior, I’m pretty sure the Universe is on our side. I mean, how else can you explain the schedule planting John Tavares and his Maple Leafs back here to see us for another game on APRIL FOOL’S DAY.
The creativity that will go into the April Fools signs for this game is sure to be awesome. 🙂
Thanks for listening! I sure hope I’m converting some of my readers to hockey fans!