Widely considered Christmas in July, NHL Free Agent Frenzy falls right on Canada's greatest day of celebration, and by no mistake. Canadians get to wake up every year on July 1st with a double double timmies at hand, or a double caesar, and celebrate decades of excellence, all while tuning into NHL Free Agent Frenzy. This year's hottest subject - John Tavares.
Winners: The Toronto Maple Leafs and of course, JT.
20 years ago, John was manifesting his annual 11 m/7yr contract with the team he grew up idolizing. And on Canada Day 2018, he achieved his life-long dream. This is one of the biggest free agent signings in modern NHL history. Like the good ol Canadian boy he is, Tavares took the hometown discount, leaving millions of dollars on the table with other teams to sign with his city. Uncommon for NHL players to want to play in the largest hockey market, attempting to avoid all the attention and scrutiny. Last year's Free Agent Frenzy saw Stamkos tease leaf nation, but he didn't have the stones to leave Tampa and come home to the hockey mecca.
However, JT has a different pedigree. He was bred for the spotlight since the first day he laced them up. John has the most decorated career in the Greater Toronto Hockey League history. He was so dominant playing a year older AAA that the OHL had to re-write the rule book. Tavares was granted "Exceptional player" status and is the youngest player to ever get drafted and play in the OHL. Before getting drafted, at 14, he was called up to Milton Ice Hawks Jr A , becoming one of the youngest players to ever play junior hockey. To put his brilliance in perspective, here is his minor hockey numbers.
Remember, those numbers were put up in the most prominent minor hockey league in the world, being an entire 365 days behind the next youngest guy. He will have no problem performing in a high-pressure hockey market that he once dominated.
Now, we acknowledge the managerial cuckold Dubas pulled on Lou Lam. Dubas gets Lou's old job, then he gets his best player from him. And all of New York couldn't be more petty and bitter.
Yeah, Mr. Reporter guy. JT owes you and the organization more than the miserable 8 years he spent bouncing around from Long Island and Brooklyn, playing a total of 24 playoff games. He is very classless because the Isles management never had a backup plan. The Islander fans claimed they loved him, but they drop him immediately when he pursues his childhood dreams?
Thankfully, Leaf Nation has provided a warm, welcoming environment to our new superstar. Starting with Auston Matthews, who played a pivotal role in selling Johnny this off season and now can't wait to share the spotlight with him.
And players are already sacrificing for the new acquisition.
And even superstars from outside of hockey are welcoming him to the 6ix.
Can the MLSE be hinting at something with that jersey?
As weird as it sounds, is Tavares the successor to Phaneuf?
Either way, this makes the Buds a strong Stanley Cup contender next year. Fans and analyst have already made their projected lineups with some including Tavares and Matthews together. Although, this prolific pickup did cost Toronto some loyal fan favourites. Bozak signed with St. Louis, while JVR returned to the team that drafted him in Philly. They have been with the organization for over a handful of years and now forced to leave just as things are getting good. That can't be easy but they found good homes.
Dubas didn't stop at JT with the hometown signings. Later that afternoon, he picked up another former GTHL Toronto Marlie, Jordan Subban.
All in all, greatest Canada Day ever and only 94 more days away from the season opener at the ACC (I will never call it the Scotiabank arena).