NEW YORK — John Tavares will likely be named the 14th captain in New York Islanders history on Monday, when a press conference is scheduled prior to the Islanders Children’s Foundation Golf Outing at Bethpage State Park Golf Course in Farmingdale, N.Y.
A participant at the National Hockey League’s annual Player Media Tour this week, Tavares told NHL.com on Friday it’s a role he is ready to accept should he be selected by general manager Garth Snow and coach Jack Capuano.
“It’s pretty special, pretty unique to be a captain in the National Hockey League, especially for a franchise like the Islanders,” said Tavares, who would replace defenseman Mark Streit after the latter was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in June. “So much history and a lot of great captains, a lot of great players. To be recognized by teammates, coaches, fans as a leader and as the captain is something that is pretty special and you don’t take it for lightly, you don’t take it for granted.”
Tavares, who turns 23 on Sept. 20, led the Islanders last season with 47 points (28 goals, 19 assists) in 48 games and was a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. He attributed a lot of his early success in the League to assistant coach Doug Weight, who was captain of the Isles when Tavares first arrived on the scene in 2009 after being the No. 1 pick at the NHL Draft. Tavares also said he learned a lot from Streit, who captained the Islanders for the past two seasons following Weight’s retirement.
“I think things would still be pretty normal, the demands and the things I’ve had to do my first four years in the League, I think it’d be pretty similar,” Tavares said. “But obviously there’s a little bit more heightened responsibility, and I don’t think you force anything. I think you grow and learn from all the things you’ve been through and from other people, whether it’s Mark or Dougie and other guys that have come through. Even my teammates now, I lean on them so much. We’re all there for one another. I think it’d be an easy transition if that’s the case.”
New York is coming off its first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2007, as it suffered a six-game loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It was a sign that Snow’s rebuilding process is starting to come to fruition, one that revolved around strong character players such as defenseman Travis Hamonic, and forwards Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey and Casey Cizikas. Tavares is confident that regardless of who is chosen to be the next captain, the Islanders are ready to take another step this season.
“I think we have great character in our room,” Tavares said. “We’ve got guys that really want it. It’s taken some time for us to find it, and I think we got a little taste of it and now we’ve got to keep going out there and getting it. It’s not going to be any easier. Character’s a big part of our room and whoever’s named captain, I think we’ve got many guys that will step up in a lot of ways. We’ve got some older guys, we’ve got some younger guys and everyone has stepped up in their own way. We’ve really come together and it’s important that it keeps going forward.”
The Islanders open the 2013-14 season on Oct. 4 against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.
This article was originally posted on NHL.com
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