John Tavares skates for the first time during practice in...

John Tavares skates for the first time during practice in Syosset. (Jan. 11, 2013) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

The face of the Islanders' franchise, the future the organization will build around, was nowhere near Barclays Center on Oct. 24 when the team announced it will move to Brooklyn in 2015.

John Tavares was in picturesque Switzerland, playing for SC Bern and trying to block from his mind the stalled collective-bargaining talks.

But he was well aware of how the future of the Islanders -- and their star forward -- changed with that day's announcement.

"It was a big relief for everybody," Tavares said after his first workout with his teammates at IceWorks Friday. "We needed to find a home and we did. We found a way to still be on the Island even though it's not really where we wanted to be. This is something that should ease a lot of guys' minds in the years to come."

Tavares made his commitment to the franchise on the eve of the 2011-12 training camp without even a bit of knowledge of where the Islanders would be calling home halfway into his new deal (six years for $33 million), which kicks in this season. He certainly would have been front and center in Brooklyn on Oct. 24.

For Tavares and his team, the security of knowing where home will be should help sell the Islanders to players around the league and change some of the attitudes toward the team.

Only some, though.

"What we do on the ice is most important in changing that, I think," Tavares said. "When guys have a choice of where to play, they're looking for a stable organization that provides them with a chance to win. But knowing where we'll be will help."

Now his focus is on the 48-game sprint that begins in a week. Tavares was aware that simply working out with a few NHLers in the Toronto area wasn't enough for him, so he made a commitment early in the lockout to join Isles captain Mark Streit in Bern.

"It wasn't like I went there for a vacation," he said. "There were some things I wanted to work on and I got 30-some games in, so I feel like I'm ready to go."

As for the remaining seasons at the old barn in Uniondale, Tavares wants to make the most of them.

"Believe it or not," he said, "we're going to miss Nassau and miss the Coliseum."

Notes & quotes: Tavares said he has no ill effects from the bite he received from Swiss League player Clarance Kparghai. Tavares was bitten on the rib cage while he had Kparghai in a headlock during a scrum . . . Michael Grabner skated and said he's fully healed from the abdominal muscle tear he suffered in November while in his native Austria . . . Ryan Strome, the 2011 first-round pick, also joined the group. "I like where my game's at," said the 19-year-old center, who can play in camp and up to six regular-season games before the Islanders must decide whether to keep him and burn his first contract year or send him back to the Ontario League.

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