My regular readers, I know what you're thinking:
"A hockey post? Really? Where am I?"
Well I'm happy to inform you that you're not dreaming and this is, in fact, reality.
Is John Tavares the player who will get me back into hockey? He may very well be. I sure hope he is, because I'm not particularly enthralled with the New York Knicks or New Jersey Nets at the moment. It could be a loooong winter with no NBA or NHL team to follow.
So if you haven't already heard, the New York Islanders made Tavares the No. 1 overall selection in the NHL Draft. The consensus was that Tavares was the most talented player in the draft, but there was some uncertainty as to whether or not the Isles would make him their man. Their other possible selection was Victor Hedman, a 6-foot-6 defenseman whom the analysts dubbed "most ready to contribute at the NHL level."
Well hell, Tavares better be ready to play at the NHL level right away, because I'm ready for him. "JT" is a smooth-skating center with incredible natural ability. He's an offensive force, one that can beat you with his shot, puck-handling OR passing. He's a triple threat, thus, everything the Islanders need on the offensive side of the ice.
It's been years since the Islanders could be considered "watchable" from an offensive standpoint. When healthy, goaltender Rick DiPietro has been a reason to watch, but of course the key there is "when healthy." The "when," is not always.
In DiPietro's absence, there was little to watch for. Actually, I'll go one step further:
There was NOTHING to watch for. Nothing to look forward to, and nothing to make me say, "Hey, this franchise is headed in the right direction." Things got so bad this past season that Mike Francesa spent a day on "Miked Up" talking about the Islanders leaving town. Kansas City was the speculated destination.
Well that hasn't happened -- not yet at least -- and hopefully it'll never happen. Maybe John Tavares can be the player to get the Islander fans back in their seats at the Nassau Coliseum. Maybe John Tavares can improve his fellow young Islanders with his passing skills. Maybe John Tavares will be the next Mike Bossy.
Unfortunately for the die-hard Islanders fans out there, "maybe" won't be good enough. He HAS to be better than good. He HAS to be great, or the Islanders will cease to exist.
John Tavares is our last hope.
(The Red Sox are the new Yankees. How did they make the transition? "JFro," aka John Frascella, is the author of "Theo-logy: How a Boy Wonder Led the Red Sox to the Promised Land."
It's the first full-length book centered on Boston Red Sox's popular
general manager Theo Epstein. Preview or purchase it online at Amazon.com, Barnes
and Noble or Borders. It's currently stocked in Barnes and Noble stores
throughout the U.S. Also, check out John on Twitter.)