BANFF, Alberta — It was a seemingly self-evident quote not in need of further discussion.
“Obviously, this isn’t a whole lot of fun right now,” John Tavares said Monday in Vancouver after the Islanders lost yet another overtime crusher.
But these days, almost anything the Islanders’ captain says is open to interpretation by those with an interest in the mindset of the free agent-to-be.
So after Newsday put that quote in a web headline on Tuesday, some Islanders fans fretted, some fans of other teams — especially in Canada — saw hope, and soon the story became the most viewed of the week on Newsday’s sports site.
Was Tavares having so little fun that he might look elsewhere for some this summer? Hmm.
He said after practice on Friday that he was not aware that anyone had taken his comment that way, and was surprised to hear anyone had.
“I’m sure when people look at the way our team’s going, they want to speculate,” he said. “They speculate on teams that have won eight in a row, too. I just control what I control. It’s just other people talking.”
Tavares understands the focus on whether he will re-sign with the Islanders, but he wants no direct part in the speculation. “I’m sure there’s interest, but I can’t worry about that,” he said. “That doesn’t have really much to do with me, what other people think or what they think what I say means. I have always said how committed I am to this team, this organization, the guys in the locker room. I mean, losing eight in a row isn’t very much fun.”
That being said, Tavares said his strategy at this trying time is not to make rah-rah speeches but rather to have . . . fun.
“I try to come out with a good attitude, smiling, having fun and just trying to work as hard as we can, and you hope good habits eventually turn the tide,” he said. “So there’s not a whole lot to be said . . . Let’s get on the ice and let’s have some fun being around each other and let’s do it with a smile on our face.”
Tavares was echoing the tack of coach Doug Weight, who — after seething his way through two postgame interviews after Thursday’s shootout loss in Edmonton — was back to positive mode. “If having energy and having a smile on your face is wrong, well, then sue me, because you have to do it,” Weight said after a spirited practice that included work on three-on-three overtime situations as well as a shootout. Two of the Islanders’ eight straight losses have been in overtime and two in shootouts.
“You have to try to make every day fun, but it’s not easy to make it feel like it’s a lot of fun,” Tavares said. “I talked about coming in, brightening up the room, trying to have a positive attitude the next day and try to turn the page, but it’s not easy, because it’s been the same result over and over again for the last couple of weeks. So you obviously want to win.”
The next chance comes Sunday in Calgary.
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