June 26, 2009 was a pivotal day for the New York Islanders’ franchise.
On a warm night in Montreal, General Manager Garth Snow drafted one of the most sought after prospects in a generation. John Tavares became an Islander that night.
Islanders’ fans have watched Tavares grow up from a raw 19-year-old rookie, to a mature, 25-year-old captain, leading the Islanders back to the NHL playoffs while developing into one of the league's elite players. Throughout his career, he’s been the face of the franchise and has represented it with grace and class.
A dedicated Islander, Tavares hits a milestone on Monday, playing his 500th NHL game in orange and blue – the 27th Islander to do it.
In honor of Tavares’ special night, NewYorkIslanders.com looks back at some of Tavares’ top moments over the past 499 games.
TAVARES SCORES GAME 3 OT WINNER VS. WASHINGTON - 4/19/15
There were many memorable moments from last spring’s playoff series against the Washington Capitals and Tavares delivered arguably the biggest one, scoring the OT winner in Game 3. Overtime was gone in a flash, as Tavares potted a rebound from a sharp angle past Braden Holtby 15 seconds into the sudden death frame. Usually reserved, Tavares dropped down for a big fist pump, before Ryan Strome, Nikolay Kulemin and the rest of the Islanders jumped into his arms. Nassau Coliseum rumbled, Tavares providing one of the final roars on Hempstead Turnpike.
TAVARES SCORES IN GAME 4 VS. PENGUINS - 5/7/13
Playing in the postseason for his first time, Tavares helped the spunky Islanders give the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins a scare in the first round of the 2013 playoffs. No moment was bigger than his game-winning goal in Game 4. Tavares deked out Brooks Orpik, skated into the slot, corralled his own rebound with Evgeni Malkin bearing down on him and buried on Marc-Andre Fleury, giving the Islanders a 5-4 lead in the third period. Gord Miller’s call on TSN says it all. “Oh, what a goal by John Tavares!” Oh, what a goal is right.
TAVARES SCORES FIVE POINTS VS. STARS - 1/6/14
On a cold January night in 2014, Tavares was red hot, showcasing his offensive abilities with a five-point (3G, 2A) night. He’s had five career hat tricks and a couple five-point games in his career (Mar. 16, 2010 vs. Vancouver) and he’ll probably have a couple more before it’s all said and done.
TAVARES SCORES OT BEAUTY VS MAPLE LEAFS - 3/9/15
An Oakville, ON native, Tavares seems to put on a show when the Islanders are in Toronto, scoring 20 points (8G, 12A) in 13 games at Air Canada Centre. With mom and dad in the stands last season, Tavares scored an absolute beauty against the Maple Leafs, streaking down the wing, deking three players before wrapping the puck around Jonathan Bernier. In overtime, get the puck to Tavares.
TAVARES SCORES HAT TRICK VS. RANGERS - 10/15/11
The headline says it all.
TAVARES SCORES IN NHL DEBUT - 10/3/09
Tavares made an immediate impact with the Islanders, scoring a goal and an assist in his first NHL game, finishing it off with an iconic celebration. He scored his 200th goal as an Islander 495 games later, becoming the 11th Islander to do so.
TAVARES IS DRAFTED - 6/29/09
Tavares’ Islanders journey started on draft night, as General Manager Garth Snow selected him first overall. With the franchise committed to rebuilding at the time, Tavares was seen as a cornerstone piece. Just look at the fans' excitement upon Tavares’ selection.
TAVARES WINS OLYMPIC GOLD - 2/23/14
Winning an Olympic Gold Medal is a massive accomplishment and John Tavares brought one home at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. The moment is a little bittersweet for Tavares, who suffered a season-ending knee injury along the way, but at the end of the day, he’s got an Olympic gold in his trophy case.
JOHNNY ALL-STAR - 1/30/16
Tavares is a three-time NHL all-star and would likely be more if not for two Olympics and a work stoppage. Tavares excels when he’s among the best, scoring a record-tying four goals in the 2015 all-star game and winning the accuracy shooting competition at the 2016 skills competition.
TAVARES MEETS FAN IN WINNIPEG - 12/31/14
Sometimes, it’s what Tavares does off the ice that’s most impressive. Catching wind of a young fan who was bullied for wearing his jersey in Winnipeg, Tavares did the right thing, sending an autographed jersey to the kid and took some time to meet him when the Islanders visited Manitoba. It was a nice gesture from the captain, who has been an excellent ambassador for the Islanders and the sport.