BROOKLYN, NY -- New York Islanders star John Tavares enjoyed quite a summer. Shortly after enjoying the first playoff action of his NHL career, the All-Star center was named a finalist for the Hart Memorial trophy as the League's most valuable player. He came up short in that contest, but was later invited to Team Canada's Olympic orientation camp in August.
But the greatest honor bestowed upon the 22-year-old this summer may have come shortly before training camp, when the Islanders named him the 14th captain in franchise history. The move, necessitated by former captain Mark Streit's signing with the Philadelphia Flyers, cast an even greater spotlight on the Islanders' franchise player. But Tavares made it clear as camp opened that he wasn't planning on changing his approach to the game just because he has a C stitched above his heart.
"For me, I think I'm just going to continue my growth as a player and a person. Being an assistant captain really helped me in that leadership role. I think that will just carry over to now with getting the 'C,'" Tavares said. "Everyone gets along so well and we rely on each other so much. I don't think they just expect me to do everything on and off the ice. I need those guys to be successful as a leader and a player."
The presence of that youthful Islanders core will no doubt be helpful through Tavares' first season as captain. But he also benefited greatly studying under previous Islanders captains, like Streit and Doug Weight, who now serves as an assistant coach and senior advisor to the general manager. As for the man who has coached Tavares through much of his pro career, it isn't at all surprising that the young captain plans on going about his business as usual.
"The one thing about John being our captain is he doesn't change who he is. He goes about his business every day as far as his habits on and off the ice," coach Jack Capuano said. "He's got a good core in that room. There's not going to be a lot of added pressure on him. He's a very mature kid at 22. I know those core guys we have in there. He's counting on those guys too."