Well, tonight’s the night.
You’ve had this date circled on the calendar since the first of July.
Now, it’s here.
There is no doubt you are ready for this. Right?
It’s been a long week, Islanders fans. A quiet trade deadline, an unsettling 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames and a video on social media that drew the ire of many players and fans alike have all led to this very evening. Seems fitting. Because once 7:00 p.m. rolls around, or 3:30 p.m. for tailgating, nothing will matter except the product on the ice and how you welcome back the man who once captained your favorite team for five seasons.
Lately, you’ve heard from the pundits on how you’re supposed to react when you see John Tavares in Maple Leafs white and blue for the first time. They’ve told you to boo and they’ve told you not to boo.
Truthfully, they don’t know your emotions, so, does it really matter?
I won’t do either. It’s not my place. But, what I will tell you is enjoy the moment.
Not many times do you get to watch a first-place team in a revamped arena that once permanently housed your Islanders for 43 consecutive seasons.
Not many times do you get to tailgate for hours in anticipation as you wait for the puck to drop in the heat of a playoff race.
Not many times do you get to witness two well-constructed teams go head-to-head with an important two points on the line.
Let’s not forget what’s important tonight. It’s not about welcoming home your former Captain. It is not about booing or cheering the man. It’s about picking the two points.
Make no mistake, you’re entitled to make Nassau Coliseum shake like the Colosseum in Rome did when it was first constructed in 70 AD.
But, the cheers for your first place team will have more weight on the outcome of the game than boos for a player no longer on your squad.
“Everyone’s been waiting for this all season,” Anthony Beauvillier said Thursday morning. “Obviously, the Coliseum is going to be bumping tonight.”
For reference, think back to December 29, 2018. It was a fun night, no? The Islanders flew up to Toronto and squeegeed the ice with Tavares’ new team, 4-0, won for the sixth time in seven games, saw ‘The Kid Who Won The Calder’ net a natural hat trick and earned your legendary coach his 782nd career victory.
Talk about revenge.
Why not try it again?
The talented Eddie Vedder once said: “The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself.” These Islanders are living on and proving themselves. An enormous 79 points in 62 contests is all the proof you need. A +30 goal differential supports your case even more.
Ask yourself, “do we really need JT?”
Islanders fans, I’m not here to tell you to boo or cheer tonight. That is entirely up to you and nobody else. I am here to tell you to enjoy the game. Whether you are losing your voice and bringing the roof down at the new Coliseum or you are parked in front of the television in your blue and orange den, enjoy it and think big picture.
That’s the best advice I can give you.