Clarity is the word that people close to John Tavares have been using going on seven months now, ever since the Islanders’ captain informed Garth Snow and team ownership that he would be waiting on contract talks.
There may be some clarity coming soon on one of Tavares’ key issues. New York State may be nearing an announcement on the winning proposal to develop the parcel of land at Belmont Park, according to several league sources, possibly before the calendar flips to 2018.
The Islanders’ main priority is to start building their new arena as soon as possible if their proposal is selected. Their close-second priority is getting Tavares signed to a long-term contract.
Islanders co-owner Scott Malkin visited last week with Pat Brisson, Tavares’ agent, in Los Angeles. Malkin and Brisson have kept in constant contact since last season, when the Islanders turned their focus to a new arena.
There’s no indication that Tavares would change course and decide he’s ready to sign if the Isles win the Belmont bid. He declined to discuss anything to do with a possible arena decision, which is not official. But this would be the first big step for Tavares toward getting clarity on one of the main holdups for a new Islanders deal.
Bernier makes debut
Steve Bernier got his first NHL regular-season action since April 10, 2016, the final Islanders game that season. The 32-year-old right wing was called up on Friday when Josh Ho-Sang was sent to Bridgeport as Doug Weight desired a more straightforward style of play from his bottom-six forward group.
“I think the best way to play good defensively is to be in the offensive zone,” said Bernier, who had 10 goals and four assists in 21 games for Bridgeport this season. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in the NHL. I’m very excited about it. I’ve waited for a long time and I’m going to try to do my best.”
Bernier and Anthony Beauvillier stepped into Saturday’s lineup, with Alan Quine sitting out. Weight kept the same defense as in Thursday’s 6-4 loss in Columbus, meaning Dennis Seidenberg remained a healthy scratch with Thomas Hickey (upper body) on injured reserve.