NEW YORK -- New York Islanders captain John Tavares said the season-ending knee injury he sustained in February is behind him and he'll be 100 percent when training camp opens.
"It [the knee] is great," he said Monday during the NHL Player Media Tour. "I was cleared to play the first week of May, so if we were in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs I'd be playing. I had a normal offseason and the injury has been put behind me for a good three months now."
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Tavares missed the final two months of last season after sustaining a torn medial collateral ligament and a torn meniscus in his left knee playing for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. But after rest and rehabilitation, he said he's completely past the injury.
"I'd say it's out of my mind for sure," he said. "I've had a long time. You get in a game, you're always anxious, but I've played in some pretty intense scrimmages throughout the summer. I tried to skate a little more than I usually would just because I've had a lot of time off, probably the most time off I've had in my career with playing. Being three months, almost four months since I've been cleared to play, I've had a lot of time to get over some of those mental things."
Prior to missing the final 22 games of last season, Tavares played in 350 of 354 games in his first five seasons. He said he used the extended time away as a chance to watch the team and learn what he could about what was going well and what wasn't.
"You see things develop a lot easier when you're watching from up top or watching from the stands," Tavares said. "Definitely looks a little slower. You can see things you wouldn't see at ice level or being on the ice at that level. You see certain things happen, the way we play. Certainly wasn't a great year for the guys. Definitely a lot of things that need to get better. But the thing you do see with us is our speed and how we can play an up-tempo style, and hopefully we get back to doing that on a consistent basis."
Tavares said the summer additions of goaltender Jaroslav Halak and forwards Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski have him excited, in addition to the development of a number of younger players, among them Anders Lee, Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson. He said this is the most talented team he's been on in his six NHL seasons, and that he's looking forward to the rise in expectations that have come with it.
"It's fun," he said. "You play to win and you play to win the Stanley Cup. That's been our goal, for a lot of us since we were kids to have that opportunity. After a great year we had during the lockout season we were really disappointed with it last year. This is a big year for us in a lot of ways. You can see Garth [Snow, general manager] and management really trying to find that solution to get us into the playoffs and consistently have that. The pressure is great. You have to enjoy it. It just means there's a great opportunity ahead of you."