John Tavares’ summer is rapidly coming to a close.
The Islanders captain reports to Team Canada’s training camp in Ottawa on Monday, Sept. 5, as he gets set for the World Cup of Hockey, which starts on Sept. 17. The World Cup and an Islanders playoff run bookended his summer, his shortest in his Islanders tenure.
“It’s been a good summer,” Tavares told reporters at Al Arbour’s memorial on Monday. “Quick, obviously. It’s the furthest we’ve gone in the playoffs and certainly with the World Cup and training camp starting next week it eliminated really my September, but I’m really looking forward to this year and kicking it off with the World Cup. It’ll be a pretty special tournament and I’m getting to represent my country again.”
Tavares will represent Team Canada at the World Cup, which is being played in Toronto, about 30 minutes from his hometown of Oakville. He’s previously donned the maple leaf for Team Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics (winning gold), twice at the World Junior Hockey Championships (winning two golds) and at the Spengler Cup, which he also won.
The Islanders captain appreciates the chance to play in “best-on-best” tournaments, given their relative rarity and the stiff competition to make Team Canada. One of the biggest differences between this and other tournaments – aside from the newly formed Team Europe and Team North America – is the September start date. The Olympics take place in February during the heart of the season, while the World Championships kick off around the conclusion of the regular season. Tavares sees pros and cons to both.
“You’re fresh and it helps you prepare for the start of the NHL season, which is good,” Tavares said. “But there’s a special element playing in the Olympics when we do it in February and I think that’s really when everyone’s game is at its highest level just because of the rhythm and flow of being in the season.”
“Like the first week of training camp there’s going to be kicking the rust off and getting back in the swing of things,” he added. “But everybody’s certainly healthy and ready to go and we’ll be amped up and excited.”
He’s not the only Islander in the tournament. Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak will tend goal for Team Europe, while Nikolay Kulemin suits up for Team Russia. Head Coach Jack Capuano is taking an Assistant Coach position with Team USA, so it’ll be a rare moment when they aren’t pulling for the same team.
“It’s competitive,” Capuano said. “Everybody likes to represent their country. I hope it’s a great tournament, a safe tournament for all the players that are involved in it and it’ll be exciting. I know there’s a lot of pride on the line and John’s a tremendous player along with our other players that will be there as well. It’ll be a good experience.”