John Tavares said there’s no rush to start talks on a contract extension with the Islanders, but the captain does want to try to get to work on something before the offseason is over.
“Ideally, you’d like to get something done as soon as possible,” said Tavares, who has one year left on his contract, as the Islanders held their exit meetings Monday at Northwell Health Ice Center after the end of the season Sunday. “But at the same time, like I said, it’s a process, and I think we’ve seen other guys go through it and it doesn’t necessarily happen the first day it can happen. I’m just speaking out loud. We’ll see how things go.
“Like I’ve said before, during the season, I’ve never had to worry about it because it’s just not that time yet. Now as the time approaches, we’ll start going through the process of talking and getting there and even before that, Doug [Weight] determining what he wants to do . . . which I think probably is first on their agenda, let alone my situation. So just take it one thing at a time.”
The futures of Weight and general manager Garth Snow were unclear Monday. Snow and Weight conducted the exit meetings, as they normally would do in their roles as GM and assistant GM. The players reiterated their support for Weight returning as coach after he led the team to a 24-12-4 record, falling a point short of making the playoffs.
Tavares spoke up for Weight. “I think you saw what he brought to the team and really sparked the great finish we had to the season and gave us a great opportunity to make it,” Tavares said. “I think he did a great job of handling the group and there’s a lot of respect for Dougie. He was great for me as well, challenged me and tried to put me in a position to succeed individually. So yeah, I thought he did a great job.”
A few of Tavares’ teammates spoke up for him. After the disappointment of missing the playoffs for the first time in three years, the thought of Tavares declining to sign an extension and possibly being traded in a couple of months would be a bit much.
“I don’t really have an inkling what he wants to do,” said Cal Clutterbuck, a longtime friend. “I know he wants to win and he wants to win here.”
Tavares can officially sign July 1, the first day of free agency. Snow and Islanders owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky have had numerous conversations this season with Pat Brisson, Tavares’ agent, that served two purposes: keeping Brisson and Tavares in the loop on the direction of the franchise and gauging Brisson’s interest in taking a role in the Isles’ front office.
Brisson reportedly has rejected Malkin and Ledecky’s advances, but keeping Tavares apprised of possible talks on a new arena might help him make his choice.
Tavares said there are many factors involved in his decision. He doesn’t appear to have the appetite to keep the rumor mill churning by putting off his decision until after next season.
“I think it’s a lot more complicated process than probably people realize,” he said. “And I haven’t even really gone through it yet. So I think just looking at a lot of situations that have kind of come over the last couple of years, not only from my side but from the team side, just with the management of the cap and then obviously the financial side of it, kind of those details that come into the negotiation process.
“Obviously, you want to enjoy where you’re playing and where you’re living. I’ve always stated that I’ve enjoyed those things and I’ve always been treated really well here. So there’s no doubt about that for me. So hopefully we can get something done.”