I was the first one to jump on board of the Twitter trend, but after further review, I was skeptical of a possible cheap, reactive gimmick that belittles Tavares’ signing in Toronto. After seeing the Maple Leaf community formally re-welcome Tavares, I was wrong to second guess myself.
Nothing galvanizes a fanbase quite like getting your ass handed to you, right? Tavares’ return to the New York Islanders Nassau Coliseum was spoiled by confused, wayward, fair-weather, fickle fans. But moreso, Tavares’ return was spoiled by his teams performance.
Trying to move past the letdown, Toronto and Tavares returned to the Scotia Bank Arena to host the Buffalo Sabres. The team altered the lineup announcement after the viral spreading of #TavaresDayTO to rightfully give him the isolated applause he deserved after that night in Long Island.
Goosebumps, right? Tavares too. It’s something both sides initially took for granted; Tavares knew that Leaf fans wanted him to come home, and Leaf fans knew Tavares wanted to play for his hometown team. But, sometimes you need to express those internal, known truths.
It seems corny and more like a Disney plot than an NHL hockey storyline. Whatever it was, the overwhelming goodwill that was produced by this manufactured movement outweighed the negative. It corrected the balance of the hockey universe.
Toronto would go on to beat Buffalo 5-2 with Tavares scoring the opening goal of the game. The Leafs were 1-0 post Islanders catastrophy.
That, however, is not the balance I’m talking about. The Islanders are 0-2, getting outscored 7-2 in that two-game span. The blue and orange are currently tripping over themselves, blowing up a chance to beat divisional rival Washington, and blowing a rebound game against lowly, ten-man Philadelphia.
It’s not much, but it’s enough to show me the hockey gods are real and they are paying attention.
Hopefully, the loss to the Islanders can be a galvanizing point in the season for the Leafs as a team and us as their fan base. The mirrored signs to the New York signs that Leaf fans waived on Saturday night had it right, We don’t need you, John. We want you.