Tavares Eager for Season

John Tavares has put his season-ending knee injury behind him and is excited about the Islanders new look.

Wednesday, 08.6.2014 / 11:21 AM ET / News
By Cory Wright
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Tavares Eager for Season
John Tavares has put his season-ending knee injury behind him and is excited about the Islanders new look.

For a born winner and fierce competitor like John Tavares, a six-month summer break is just too long.

Sure, the weather’s nice and having some downtime with friends and family is great, but the Islanders captain would rather work through June.

“While the summer’s been good for other reasons, it’s been too long and I want to change that this coming season,” Tavares said. “It’s probably the longest stretch I’ve ever gone without playing. I’m looking forward to training camp and I want to finish off the summer strong and come into the year motivated with a lot to prove.”

Tavares sustained a season-ending knee injury while playing for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics in February. He played his last NHL game on Feb. 8.

Tavares missed the Islanders final 22 games, but fortunately the injury didn’t require surgery and Tavares began rehabbing immediately following his return to Long Island. He progressed through his off-ice therapy and was cleared for full skating activity in mid-May, when he began practicing with the OHL’s London Knights.

Now, two-and-a-half-months later, the Islanders captain is working through his annual rigorous offseason training regiment and putting the injury behind him.

“It’s been a really good summer from a training aspect,” Tavares said. “It’s nice to focus on what I really need to work on, what I need to get better at and to get in the best shape I can for the season.”

As well as the summer workouts have gone physically, the long break can take a mental toll, especially on a competitor and leader like Tavares. He is chomping at the bit to get back on the ice with the Islanders, who have done their part to ensure a shorter offseason in 2015.

“The competition in camp might be the highest it’s been since I’ve been here,” Tavares said. “Certainly that’s going to push us individually and as a team. Not only are guys fighting for roles and ice time, but it also will help us as a team, bringing us together and pushing one another to be better as a group.”

Tavares said that he’s excited to return to Long Island and play with the Islanders new acquisitions; Jaroslav Halak, Chad Johnson, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. Halak and Johnson represent a complete overhaul of the Islanders crease, while Grabovski and Kulemin headline an influx of talent and depth up front. The Islanders also signed Cory Conacher, a speedy, skilled forward who will increase the competition at training camp.

“Goaltending was something [General Manager] Garth [Snow] addressed right away. It’s something he wanted to provide more stability with,” Tavares said. “I’ve always talked about the presence Evgeni Nabokov had in our lockerroom, but we’re bringing in a pretty young goaltender with some great numbers over his career. Year in and year out, he’s pretty consistent.”

Returning a healthy Tavares adds more to the Islanders lineup than any free agent could. The 23-year-old was the NHL’s third-leading scorer at the time of his injury, posting 66 points (24G, 42A) in 59 games, and was a Hart Trophy finalist for league MVP in 2012-13.

Training camp is a month-and-a-half away, so it won’t be long until Tavares trades off-ice workouts for morning skates and summertime blues for Islander blue and orange.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 x - TBL 77 47 23 7 249 201 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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