Hockey

Hometown angle ‘particular’ for some Maple Leafs, however is it proper for John Tavares?

TORONTO — Whereas John Tavares was entertaining potential suitors at his agent’s workplace in Los Angeles on Tuesday, James van Riemsdyk was enjoying ping pong for charity on a road nook in downtown Toronto.

It was one other instance of the variations between the 2 pending free brokers. It additionally supplied a small style of what it’s prefer to play for the Maple Leafs.

With solely 5 groups granted an unique viewers with Tavares throughout this week’s negotiation interval, the truth that the New York Islanders centre was born in Mississauga, Ont. would possibly give the Leafs a hometown edge over Boston, Dallas, San Jose and Tampa Bay.

Then once more, it might have the alternative impact.

In contrast to Dallas or Tampa Bay, which do enterprise in states that haven’t any revenue tax, you can’t cover your revenue as simply in Toronto. You may’t cover in any respect. That a lot was made obvious as van Riemsdyk, together with third-line winger Connor Brown and part-time ahead Dominic Moore, spent the morning posing for photos and enjoying ping pong with a gradual provide of followers at a pop-up occasion Tuesday to lift cash and consciousness for the Steve Moore Basis’s efforts towards concussion and uncommon most cancers analysis.

The query is: does Tavares, who spent the previous 9 years in relative anonymity whereas enjoying within the shadow of the New York Rangers, even crave the limelight.

John Tavares. Bruce Bennett / Getty Photos

“Actually, when it comes to the eye the group will get, it’s not for everybody,” mentioned Dominic Moore, a local of Thornhill, Ont. “There’s sure personalities, whether or not you’re from this space or not, possibly you don’t relish that as a lot as another guys who would reasonably play in a smaller market. That’s extra of a character factor.”

Added Brown, who’s from Toronto: “It’s all I’ve recognized, however I’ve beloved it. I feel Toronto has achieved such a very good job of defending it. Everybody at all times says Toronto’s such a giant media market, however I haven’t felt it to be too overwhelming. It’s been superior. It’s such a cool expertise to play within the Air Canada centre if you’re from right here.”

The Leafs had extra of a homegrown really feel final season, with eight gamers both born in Toronto or the encircling space.

“For a man like John, he’s from this space and he is aware of what it means to be a Leaf,” Moore mentioned. “I actually assume if you play to your hometown group, you have got a ardour that’s fairly particular when it comes to enjoying in entrance of family and friends and carrying the jersey that you simply grew up watching so often. That’s to not say that you simply don’t have that very same ardour wherever you’re, however it’s a particular factor for certain for guys from this space.”

Geography, after all, is simply one of many explanation why Tavares would possibly select to calm down in Toronto this summer season.

On Monday, Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, group president Brendan Shanahan and head coach Mike Babcock flew to California and introduced their case to Tavares, whose contract expires on July 1. It’s believed that Toronto supplied Tavares quite a lot of short- and long-term contracts that will make him one of many highest-paid gamers within the NHL.

However their actual promote involved his legacy.

Image profitable the Stanley Cup. Now image profitable it in your yard after a franchise drought of greater than 50 years.

It’s the identical alternative they pitched to Markham, Ont., native Steven Stamkos two years in the past when he was a pending free agent. This time, nonetheless, it had extra benefit.

Toronto misplaced to Boston within the first spherical of the playoffs this yr, however it was nonetheless a yr stuffed with promise and potential, capped off by Toronto Marlies profitable the Calder Cup as champions of the American Hockey League.

The Leafs completed with the third-most factors within the Japanese Convention — greater than the Stanley Cup-winning Capitals — and scored the third-most targets within the NHL. And so they did it with Mitch Marner (age 20), Auston Matthews (19) and William Nylander (21) main the group in scoring.

The Leafs, who’ve a world-class coach in Babcock and a legit No. 1 goalie in Frederik Andersen, aren’t on the lookout for Tavares to come back in and be the saviour. Like Patrick Marleau’s signing final summer season, he can be simply one other piece of a rising puzzle.

“I feel we’ve put the blueprint in right here and we actually consider in what we’re doing,” Brown mentioned. “I feel we’re near doing one thing particular. Clearly, final yr didn’t finish the way in which we needed it, however there’s a number of good constructing blocks and we’re going into subsequent season with a very good feeling.”

May there be a hazard in bringing in Tavares, the Islanders captain, to a group the place children are beginning to take extra of a management function?

“Completely not,” Brown mentioned. “Clearly, it’s obtained to be the proper man. You see with Patty Marleau coming into our room, we now have such a younger group and with him being in a special age group, he combined in so properly particularly with the younger guys. Mitch and Auston are hanging out with him in the summertime nonetheless.

“Clearly, (Tavares is) one of many elite gamers within the league and any group can be fortunate to have him.”

excellent timing for VAN RIEMSDYK

Toronto Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk celebrates his Sport three objective towards the Boston Bruins on Monday April 16, 2018. Ernest Doroszuk / Postmedia Community

With the beginning of free company simply across the nook, it seems that van Riemsdyk shall be on the open market come Sunday. And after scoring a career-best 36 targets this season, it couldn’t come at a greater time for the Toronto Maple Leafs winger.

The 29-year-old declined to speak to reporters on Tuesday, however teammate Connor Brown mentioned no matter groups finally ends up with van Riemsdyk can be getting a strong participant and a fair higher individual.

“He’s such an amazing man and a very good participant,” Brown mentioned. “Wherever he lands, it’s going to be good for that group. He’s achieved a lot for this metropolis and he’s come to play each recreation. I’ve realized so much enjoying with a man like that and I’d like to play with him extra. However that’s the enterprise. And he’s earned it.”

With the Leafs exhibiting curiosity in John Tavares, Brown mentioned he has been being attentive to who could be signing in Toronto this summer season. However he’s not getting his hopes up.

“You don’t wish to get too caught up in it,” he mentioned, “as a result of there’s so many issues being mentioned particularly round this time of yr. You simply wait to see the way it unfolds and who we obtained within the room come September we’ll be able to go.”

E-mail: mtraikos@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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