John Tavares, the leading free agent in this year’s National Hockey League class, announced Sunday that he has decided to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, fulfulling a “childhood dream.”
Tavares, who played for the New York Islanders since the 2009-10 season, had met with a handful of teams at his agents’ office in Los Angeles last week. TSN reported that the deal is for seven years at US$11 million per season.
The former Islanders captain made the announcement on his Twitter feed with statements to the Islanders and to Islanders fans.
“To The New York Islanders
“I’ve been so fortunate to be an Islander not only because of the love and support of the fan base, but because of how lucky I was to be around so many great people. From ownership through management, staff and of course all my teammates, they helped me mature and grow into who I am today. I will always be thankful for how they moulded and guided me to be a better person and hockey player. Memories and friendships that I will forever hold close to my heart.
“Thank you everyone for your impact on me, I will always be grateful. My words will never be able to fully show the impact my time on the Island had on me.”
To Long Island fans, he wrote:
“To All Islanders fans,
“These past 6 days have been nothing I could have ever expected. Making the toughest decision of my life: to stay where I have been my entire career or take a calculated leap of faith into an opportunity that I believe will be special to me and my family. The island has been home, it’s what I know, it’s part of me- it always will be. I can’t thank you all enough for the dedication you have all showed. I’m sorry if this decision pains you, as you can tell it wasn’t easy, but have trust in the future because it is bright. The Islanders are in great hands. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to be an Islander for as long as I did. The island, the fans, the organization, my teammates will always be special to me and my family but its time to live my childhood dream here in Toronto.”