john tavares signs with the toronto maple leafs

My Thoughts On John Tavares Being  a Toronto Maple Leaf

A little over two weeks the New York Islanders lost their captain, while the Toronto Maple Leafs added even more depth at center. As a fan of the Maple Leafs I've decided to break down my thoughts on the trade.

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John Tavares decided to leave behind a legacy he started nine years ago with the New York Islanders, to pursue a new journey with the team he cheered for as a kid. While I feel bad for the Islanders fans who have to suffer through this loss, I cannot help but love this homecoming for Tavares.

Before getting into all the positive aspects of signing Tavares, I do have some concerns about the signing. Tavares signed a seven-year deal worth 11 million dollars per season. While this is not a huge hit on cap space, the Leafs have multiple young stars who will be looking for lucrative long-term deals in the near future. Three players come to mind in this situation, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews, or as I like to call them, the holy trinity.

William Nylander is a restricted free agent right now, who still needs to be signed. Nylander is young and incredibly talented, which should put him in a position to get a pretty big payday. The Leafs losing him would be a huge blow for the future, because he will continue to just get better and even more productive. Last season he had 20 goals, 41 assists, and played in all 82 games. Although I have seen rumors about Nylander being traded, I hope that they wouldn't do that because not only would I be very sad, but it is not in the best interest of the Leafs moving forward.

Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews will both become restricted free agents for the 2019-2020 season. You would be brain dead to think that losing these two wouldn't be the worst thing to happen to this team. Both players, like Nylander, are young and talented. Auston Matthews is the face of the franchise and deserves a big payday. Matthews scored 34 goals and had 29 assists in only 62 games this past season. Any team would be lucky to have Matthews and if he doesn't get the pay he deserves I can see him taking his talents somewhere else. Mitch Marner on the other hand, might sign for less than he deserves to continue playing with his childhood team. Just like Nylander, Marner played in all 82 regular season games for the Leafs.

In those games, he racked up 22 goals and 47 assists. Marner leads the team in points, ending the regular season with 69 points, which is impressive considering he struggled offensively at the start of the season. Mitch brings an advanced hockey IQ and incredible playmaking skills to the Leafs. Mitch is an absolute catch and has offensive skills that any team would want to add to their roster, I think that Mitch would give the Leafs a hometown discount which could help them out immensely in being able to sign all three young stars.

I think Tavares not only signed with the Leafs because that was the team he grew up rooting for but because of the talented roster that has already been established. The Leafs have strong young guys who many would love to play alongside, which is why it is so important for Nylander, Matthews, and Marner to all stay with the Leafs.

All I know is that losing any of these three players would result in a huge loss of talent. But the Leafs have $13,679,167 left in cap space and I trust Kyle Dubas, general manager of the Leafs, to get all three players signed and grow the Leafs into a true Stanley Cup contender.

Now that all the negative thoughts I have regarding this signing are out in the air, I want to talk about why this signing might very well be the second best thing to happen to the Leafs (the first was drafting Auston Matthews first overall in 2016).

John Tavares is only 27 years old, which means he has just reached his prime. In the 2017-2018 season Tavares scored 37 goals, the most thus far in his career. He also had 47 assists and played in all 82 games. Tavares has 272 career goals and 349 career assists, which proves he will be an offensive powerhouse for the Leafs.

Head coach Mike Babcock plans on playing Tavares with Mitch Marner, which will be a high scoring second line. The offensive powers of both players will be maximized by playing together. Rotowire.com analyzed Marner and Tavares playing together and said, "Marner played at a 92-point pace last season once he was promoted to the second line alongside Nazem Kadri. Tavares is a shoot-first pivot, so Marner's elite vision and playmaking skills will be a perfect match." Sounds like it might be a record season for both players.

This season is going to be unbelievably fun to watch as a Leafs fan. I am so excited to welcome Tavares to the Maple Leafs and I am so happy that he is a Leaf.

Go Leafs Go!

P.S. Kyle Dubas, do the right thing and make Morgan Rielly captain.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn't sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It's obvious your calling wasn't coaching and you weren't meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn't have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn't your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that's how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “It's not what you say, its how you say it."

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won't even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don't hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That's the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she's the reason I continued to play."

I don't blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn't working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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I Wouldn't Trade My DII Experience To Play DI Athletics Any Day

I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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As a high school athlete, the only goal is to play your varsity sport at the Division 1 level in college.

No one in high school talks about going to a Division 2 or 3 school, it's as if the only chance you have at playing college athletics is at the DI level. However, there are so many amazing opportunities to play a varsity sport at the DII and DIII level that are equally fun and competitive as playing for a division 1 team.

As a college athlete at the DII level, I hear so many DI athletes wishing they had played at the DII or DIII level. Because the fact of the matter is this: the division you play in really doesn't matter.

The problem is that DII and DIII sports aren't as celebrated as Division 1 athletics. You don't see the National Championships of Division 2 and 3 teams being broadcasted or followed by the entire country. It's sad because the highest levels of competition at the DII and DIII level are competing against some of the Division 1 teams widely celebrated across the country. Yet DII and DIII teams don't receive the recognition that DI athletics do.

Not everyone can be a DI athlete but that doesn't mean it's easy to be a DII or DIII athlete. The competition is just as tough as it is at the top for DII and DIII athletes. Maybe the stakes are higher for these athletes because they have to prove they are just as good as DI athletes. Division 2 and 3 athletes have just as much grit and determination as Division 1 athletes, without the glorified title of being "a division 1 athlete."

Also, playing at the DII or DIII level grants more opportunities to make your college experience your own, not your coach's.

I have heard countless horror stories in athletics over the course of my four-year journey however, the most heartbreaking come from athletes who lose their drive to compete because of the increased pressure from coaches or program. Division 1 athletics are historically tougher programs than Division 2 or 3 programs, making an athlete's college experience from one division to another significantly different.

The best part of not going to a division 1 school is knowing that even though my team doesn't have "DI" attached to it, we still have the opportunity to do something unique every time we arrive at an event. Just because we aren't "DI" athletes, we still have the drive and competitive spirit to go to an event and win. We are great players, and we have broken countless records as a team.

That's something we all have done together, and it's something we can take with us for the rest of our lives.

We each have our own mission when it comes to our college athletic careers, however together we prove to be resilient in the fight for the title. Giving it all when we practice and play is important, but the memories we have made behind the scenes as a team makes it all worth it, too.

The best part of being apart of college athletics is being able to be passionate about your sport with teammates that embody that same mindset. It's an added benefit to having teammates who become your best friends because it makes your victories even more victorious, and your defeats easier to bare.

No matter what level an athlete is playing at in college, it's important that all the hours spent at practice and on the road should be enjoyed with teammates that make the ride worthwhile. The experiences athletes have at any level are going to vary, but the teammates I have and the success we've had together is something I cherish and will take with me forever. I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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