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Tavares signing 'fantastic' for Maple Leafs fans, Lindros says

Hockey Hall of Famer, who grew up, played in Toronto, calls center 'real deal'

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

John Tavares signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs is a thrill for their fans, Hockey Hall of Fame center Eric Lindros said.

"I think it's fantastic for anybody who roots for the Toronto Maple Leafs," Lindros, who grew up in Toronto and played for the Maple Leafs, told TSN on Monday. "You look at the lineup they already had and you bring in a stud like John Tavares ... he's the real deal. It's going to be interesting."

Tavares, 27, signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Maple Leafs on July 1. The center spent the first nine seasons of his NHL career with the New York Islanders, who selected him No. 1 in the 2009 NHL Draft.

Video: Projecting the Maple Leafs' lineup for 2018-19

"You're going to have him going up against on the road, the checking line," Lindros said. "Auston Matthews isn't going to have to face it anymore, or vice versa. And [center Nazem] Kadri is on the third line. You've got a real good one-two-three punch there."

Lindros, the No. 1 pick by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1991 NHL Draft, had 865 points (372 goals, 493 assists) in 760 NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars in 13 seasons from 1992-2007. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.

"To be able to see a guy like John who is still in his prime, he's got a long way to go, he's got lots of years left, to come in and have an opportunity to play when he is at the peak of his game is going to be a thrill," Lindros said.

Lindros, like Tavares, grew up a Maple Leafs fan and said playing for them was a highlight of his career. He signed a one-year contract with Toronto before the 2005-06 season and had 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 32 games, missing the majority of the season because of two wrist injuries.

"Growing up in this environment and seeing the Leafs on TV all the time, you know, you wake up and everything is Leafs around here," Lindros said. "I always had a dream of playing here. Unfortunately it was short-lived and pretty much later in my career."

Lindros said Tavares will face more scrutiny in Toronto because it is a big hockey market.

"It's a different stage," he said. "You wake up in the morning after a game, you might stop at the diner to go get some scrambled eggs on your way to practice and pretty much everyone in that diner knows if you had a good one or if you had a stinker. So it's a whole different environment than possibly some other cities."

The Maple Leafs, who have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967, qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons. They had the most wins (49) and points (105) in their history last season, finished third in the Atlantic Division and lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games in the Eastern Conference First Round.

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