John Tavares: ‘Being Captain Isn’t Going To Change The Way I Handle Myself’
John Tavares, who enters his fifth season with the New York Islanders, was named team captain this offseason after former captain Mark Streit was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I think the biggest thing is you earn the respect from your teammates, (the) coaching staff, the organization, the fans and the community here on Long Island,” Tavares said on The John Feinstein Show, explaining what it means to be captain. “To have that respect and (to have them) recognize you as the leader of the team, it’s something you don’t take very lightly and you understand that it’s something that’s pretty special, very significant, and you obviously want to do the best you can.
“But I don’t think it’s going to change the way I handle myself or (the way) I do things. I think I’ve been given this role and responsibility and have this opportunity because of just my game and my growth and my maturity off the ice and what I’ve learned and how I’ve become more of a leader in the locker room with the guys.”
Tavares, by the way, just turned 23 in September. It’s incredibly rare for a player his age to have that much NHL experience.
“I’m glad because five years in the league, you know some guys are right around 30 (and getting) really old,” Tavares said, laughing. “I’ve been obviously very fortunate being able to accomplish what I have and I’ve worked really hard to get here, so yeah, it’s another year. I can’t believe it’s my fifth year. It’s funny how fast it goes, and I just hope these next five years are going to be special and we can do some great things in New York.”
The Islanders went 24-17-7 last season and came within a few minutes of forcing a Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Tavares finished with 28 goals and 19 assists last year. He has 112 goals and 137 assists in his career.
“You just want to keep getting better and keep improving,” Tavares said. “I learned a lot about myself again last year and (I’m) just trying to work on becoming a complete player – (to) be relied on offensively and defensively. Obviously, you want to keep producing.”
This year, Tavares explained, the Islanders’ goal is not simply to make the playoffs; it’s to make some noise once they get there.
“We found (out last year), really, the way we need to play,” Tavares said. “And understanding what it takes every night – that consistency, believing we can win – I think the motivation is there. I love the youth we have, and we’ll be able to play a really good speed-physical game that’s going to be tough on a lot of teams.”