John Tavares skated with some of his Islanders teammates at IceWorks Wednesday, eight days before training camp begins. The Islanders captain hasn't been seen on the ice in orange and blue since February, before he was injured at the Sochi Olympics and missed the final 22 Islanders games.
That time away has only fueled the Isles captain's fire for the 2014-15 season to begin.
"It's no secret Garth [Snow] was pretty aggressive this offseason and we made some big signings, got a lot deeper in some areas," Tavares told Newsday. "Clearly our expectation is to win now and we've been building for a long time. Obviously we thought after the playoffs two years ago that last season would have been a big year for us. It was really a disappointment, so we're trying to get back to the playoffs and not only that, but have some success there, and you want to sustain it."
Last season was a washout even before Tavares suffered a knee injury playing for gold-medal winner Canada. The Isles slogged through a 3-14-3 slide in November and December to drop them from the playoff chase before Christmas; even though the Isles went 12-7-3 without Tavares, the captain said the message is clear this season.
"We were disappointed with the season, so you have to look at the whole season," he said. "To look at the end and see it as a great positive isn't always the best way to look at things. It's certainly good to have guys step up and gain from having an opportunity that some guys had at the end of last year, but we want to be in the playoffs. Everyone has to look at the whole season and find ways they can be better. And that starts with me. I know I wasn't totally happy with the way I played on a consistent basis. I want to lead by example, so I'm the first one to say I know I have to be better."