Fans throw fake snakes, call new Leafs player John Tavares a traitor
What happened when former Islanders captain faced his old team for the first time
New York Islanders fans did everything they could to send a message to their former captain when he stepped onto the ice on Thursday — including booing, yelling “traitor” and throwing plastic snakes.
This was the first time John Tavares had faced his former team since signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1, 2018.
Tavares grew up in Mississauga, Ont., and dreamed of playing for the Leafs as a kid.
So his defection to the Leafs wasn’t a total shock.
But Tavares started his NHL career with the Islanders and stayed for nine seasons.
You might say he grew up on the team.
Which could explain why the boos almost drowned out the sound of the Tavares tribute video that played midway through the first period on Feb. 28.
It also helps explain the projectiles, including at least one plastic snake and a jersey.
Some fans were wearing jerseys with Tavares’s number on it and the word traitor — or worse — where his last name should be.
Others made fun of the fact that Tavares used to sleep in a Maple Leafs-themed bed as a kid.
In an interview before the game, Tavares said he was ready for whatever his former fans might send his way.
He also said he was “really proud” to have been an Islander.
Tavares said the hate directed towards him now won’t change the way he feels about the team.