Sentimentality aside, John Tavares had plenty more reasons to join the Maple Leafs than Bernie Kosar Jersey remain with the Islanders.
"It really took the right opportunity, the right fit," Tavares told reporters at his introductory pre s conference Sunday after signing ."I though thetiming couldn't be beat, and certainly being from here and with where this team is at and how good and young their core players are ... it was just hard to turn down this opportunity."
Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs)
Though Tavarescalled the free agency period "one of the toughest weeks" for him and referenced how his "heart was tearing apart" finalizing his decision to leave the Islanders, in the end he knew deep down he was heading to the right place at the right time in his career.
"It's, obviously, one of the premier organizations not just in hockey, but in all of sports," Tavares said of his new team.
Added Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, "We're a good match in personality with John."
MORE:John Tavares admits 'my heart was tearing apart'leaving Islanders
Of course, Tavares is a local kid, born in Mi si sauga Austin Seibert Jersey , Ontario, rooted for the Maple Leafs growing up and as he displayed on Twitter early Sunday afternoon slept under Leafs sheets as a little boy. That could mean extra pre sure on the low-key, low-maintenance 27-year-old, or, then again, it could just make for one heck of an incredible story if he helps lead Toronto to its first Stanley Cup since 1967, back when there were just six teams in the league.
Not everyday you can live a childhood dreamJohn Tavares (@91Tavares)
"I can say that when you grow up somewhere, it's sometimes even harder for those players to come home," offered Shanahan. "They have to sort of feel safe, that this is a place where they can have every opportunity to have succe s because it's not just you, it's your family, the people you grew up with that are Sione Takitaki Jersey going to go on that journey with you.
"I think we understood that was an important part for John."
It was also important to Tavares that he play for a legit Stanley Cup contender in particular, one that has the foundation to contend for years to come. He stated several times on Sunday his belief that the Maple Leafs,especially with superstar youngsters Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner already in place and a solid trove of other talented Joe Schobert Jersey young pieces either in the NHL or in the pipeline,fit that criteria.
MORE: In pursuit of Cup, John Tavares puts Leafs in position to go for it
"You look at the depth up front, the youth,just how young they are, the energy they play with, the pace they play with and the creativity they play with," Tavares said in rattling off things he likes about the current Maple Leafs squad.
"Going through this proce s this week, I started to think about playing against the teams I was considering and I just remember how tough the games were this year, how tough the (Maple Leafs) were to play against, no time and space. They have a good idea of who they are, their identity."
Of Matthews and Marner, Tavares had many great things to say, focusing quite a bit on the 200-foot game each plays, just as much as their impre sive offensive skills and creativity. He also referenced that both Matthews and Marner are just scratching the surface in their careers.
"They're such a big part of it here, they were drafted here, accomplished so much in such little time," Tavares said. "You can only think about the trajectory and that's what gets me so excited because those players are so good at such a young age."
Leafs coach Mike Babcock was part of the recruiting team and spent much time explaining to Tavares how exactly he planned to use No. 91. That helped land himin Toronto, as Greg Joseph Jersey did his prior working relationship with Babcock on the international stage, where each helped Canada win gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
"We had good results the last two times together," Tavares said.
"You always hope you can get quality players and it was great to see John make this decision." - Mike BabcockToronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs)
Good results are what Tavares, Babcock, Shanahan and the rest of the Maple Leafs envision over the next seven years with Tavaresnow in the fold, of course.
"Cheering for the Leafs growing up, you start to get those feelings again once I went through the interview proce s, what it was like as a kid watching the Leafs and following my favorite players," Tavares said.
"The timing was too good. It was an opportunity I didn't want to turn down. I am very fortunate to be here JC Tretter Jersey and call myself a Maple Leaf."