John Tavares focused on finishing season, not future with Islanders
Plenty of people have spent plenty of time this season speculating about John Tavares’ future.
The Islanders captain is not one of them.
“Not really,” Tavares said on Tuesday. “I haven’t thought about my situation maybe as much as I thought I would.”
Tavares, 27, is completing a six-year, $33-million deal and there have been no indications his agent, Pat Brisson, and Islanders general manager Garth Snow have made significant progress toward a new deal. He would be the premier unrestricted free agent on the market — arguably in NHL history — and his yearly salary could approach $11 million.
It’s likely the Islanders will miss the playoffs for the second straight season and for the sixth time since Tavares was selected first overall in 2009.
The Islanders’ arena situation — a new facility at Belmont is not expected to be ready until the 2021-22 season — and possibly the status of Snow and coach Doug Weight are some of the uncertainties lingering over the franchise.
And they are all part of the equation for Tavares.
For now, Tavares is focused on trying to help a bitterly disappointing season end positively. The Islanders’ nosedive since mid-February has occupied most of Tavares’ thoughts.
“Certainly, over the last couple of months, when things aren’t going as well, it’s never easy, no matter what,” Tavares said. “But it’s not something I try to think about a whole lot. To me, it’s separate, the season and my contract situation. I don’t really see them going hand in hand or having an effect on one another.
“I just try to approach everything the same. It’s mostly been trying to fight to get into the playoffs and get out of the rut we’ve been in for a little while. You just invest so much into each and every day and every game. That’s the priority, not so much with what’s going on with my future.”
Tavares’ approach to his situation, analyzed so much from the outside, has impressed Weight.
“He’s dealt with it honestly and dealt with it well,” Weight said. “You knew it was going to be somewhat of an issue. He’s a high-profile player and a captain, a guy that’s been here for eight years. Whether we were 75-2 or 2-75, there were going to be questions, speculation and things on his plate.”