There’s a reason NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is considering the idea of no longer sending league players to the Olympics. The New York Islanders are more than likely on board with this, especially after they lost their star player during an Olympic game yesterday.
Islanders captain John Tavares suffered a knee injury while representing Canada in a game against Latvia. New York hoped they’d receive positive news after further evaluation. Instead, they got word that Tavares tore his MCL and meniscus. He’s out for the year, which should all but set a disappointing Islanders season ablaze.
New York was a surprise team during last year’s lockout shortened season. They squeaked into the postseason, and eventually gave Stanley Cup favorite Pittsburgh Penguins a significant scare before losing the series 4-2. But they weren’t expected to hang with Pittsburgh, and their inspiring run was seen as fuel to possible success in the 2013-14 season.
What’s resulted so far would be an insult to the word “success.” The Islanders are currently 14th in the Eastern Conference, and though they’re only eight points out of a playoff spot, it’s hard to picture them making up that gap without their best player. Winners of three of their last ten games coming into the Olympic break, New York is in too deep, and whatever momentum they could’ve hoped to create once the season resumed faded to nothing when Tavares’ diagnosis came in.
It’s quite a disappointment after last year’s success. Acquiring Thomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres a few weeks into the season was seen as a huge boost by many, but in the end the Islanders couldn’t recover from the black hole in net. Goalie Evgeni Nabakov is in the twilight of his career, while backups Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson both have GAA well north of 3.00. All of this has led to quite a let down on Long Island.
If there’s any silver lining in all of this, it’s the news that Tavares is expected to be ready to go come September, meaning he should theoretically be all recovered for the 2014-15 season. But that’s months away, and until then, Islanders fans will have to watch this disappointment of a season crawl to the finish line.