TAMPA, Fla. — Without stepping on the expected announcement Monday that the Islanders will return part-time to Nassau Coliseum next season, John Tavares indicated that the move is just fine with him.
There are no guarantees that he will be an Islander then, given that he is a potential free agent. The site of the team’s future games has been seen as a factor in helping him decide whether to stay. After playing for the Metropolitan Division in Sunday’s All-Star Game, he said he was not aware of the impending announcement. He also was not at all upset about it.
“If that’s the case, the place means a lot to the organization and the fan base. Whatever it is, I know people will be excited,’’ he said. “It’s obviously another step in the transition from Barclays and the evolution of going to Belmont.
“The Coliseum is a special place. We had an exhibition game there this year and it brought back a lot of great memories. For me, it’s where I started my career, it’s where so many great things have happened. I really haven’t thought about it a whole lot. But I’ve always said the team belongs on Long Island. It’s where the team was born, created its identity . . . If that’s the case, it’s going to be a great opportunity, a great experience to go back there and to relive — and create some more — great history.”
The idea of playing part of a season in Uniondale and part at Barclays Center in Brooklyn also did not seem daunting to him. “The two-building thing . . . I know the organization will make it as easy as possible for us as players to go out there and do our job,” he said. “Both places are places we’re familiar with.”
The team is expected to announce Monday that it will play 12 games at the Coliseum in 2018-19 and will play more there in ensuing seasons until the planned new arena near Belmont Park is ready.