The opening of the NHL's unrestricted free-agency period came at noon on Sunday, and very shortly thereafter, Maple Leafs players, management and fans received the news they'd hoped to hear: centre John Tavares, the most accomplished player on the open market, decided to join his hometown team, signing a seven-year, $77-million contract to play in Blue and White.
"(I)t's time to live my childhood dream here in Toronto," Tavares said in a tweeted statement to social media that confirmed the speculation on his future. "I'm thrilled to be starting a new chapter of my career and life in Toronto with the @MapleLeafs. I feel very fortunate to come join a team with a great young core and play where I grew up learning and loving the game. I can't wait to get started!"