Following the fallout from the Ilya Kovalchuk signing, long-term contracts have become a hot topic heading into the 2010-11 season. That's particularly true concerning players like Islanders C John Tavares, who will hit his first year of restricted free agency following the 2011-12 campaign -- the same time the league's collective bargaining agreement is set to expire.
With the NHL and NHLPA having already altered the current CBA, the Isles may want to lock up the former No. 1 pick and future franchise center with a career-length contract before any more restrictions are added. But if they did, would Tavares even be open to accepting one?
In a one-on-one interview this morning, Tavares supplied his view on that matter.
"There’s always pros and cons to it. You’d love to be in one place your whole career and you’d love to not have to worry about your contract coming to an end or talking to the media about it," Tavares said when asked if he could see himself signing a 15-year-plus deal with the Islanders. "But as we’ve seen with Kovalchuk’s contract, sometimes with these long-term deals there can be issues. Still, I think when you have that security and can be in one place for your whole career and not have to worry and just focus on playing, I think that can be beneficial for some guys."
Take it as you will, I'm sure we'll hear plenty on the subject over the next two seasons.
In the meantime, here's what Tavares had to say about Kovalchuk's courtship by the Islanders and ensuing deal with the Devils, as well as a few notes on the past and coming season:
Did you follow the summer drama with Kovalchuk’s contract?
"Yeah, everyone was wondering what was going to happen. I was hearing what was going on with us and thinking he could come here for a bit, but now he’s going to be in our division and be a weapon for the Devils. As for that contract itself, obviously it was sorted out and it’s probably something that will be sorted out more in the next labor talks."
Given what the Devils had to go through to get him, would you have liked to have him on the Islanders?
"[GM] Garth [Snow] said he was always inquiring and I think he thought we would improve with the team we’ve got going. So, he felt it was best to stay away and I think that’s going to allow a lot of our young guys to grow. You know, [Kovalchuk] is kind of at that point where he’s in his prime and we’re still a little young. Obviously he would be a good addition, but at the same time, you don’t want to mess up the chemistry we already have."
What was the hardest thing about last season for you?
"Just getting acclimated to everything on and off the ice. It’s a lot at first. I was lucky that Doug Weight was able to help me quite a bit. That took a load off so I could just focus on playing. That helped me to some early success."
How happy are you that the Islanders re-signed him?
"I was pumped. He’s been huge for me, a big mentor, also a great friend. I’m pretty close with him and his family, who have welcomed me with open arms. I think everyone likes him, our core guys benefit from his experiences and he’s still a great hockey player."
Around the middle of last season you had a bit of a scoring slide. Were you getting tired or how do you look back on that stretch?
"I think it was a combination of things. For a week or two I was trying to just get over the hump mentally, but after I thought I was playing some really good hockey. Some of those weeks when pucks weren’t going in I thought I was playing well and making things happen. It’s one of those things; you just have to tough it out. I really learned a lot about myself and how I could contribute in other ways. It was a good test for me and I think it will benefit me in the future."
What do the Islanders need to do this season to take that next step?
"In our division, we haven’t done so well the last couple of years. Last year, we were in the playoff race pretty late, which shows we were a competitive team. We were really close, but I know we didn’t have enough success in our division [Ed. note: 7-15-2 against the Atlantic in 2009-10], especially on the road with some teams [Ed. note: combined 0-9 against the Devils, Flyers and Penguins], and that’s tough when everyone in your division is trying to get in [the playoffs]. I think if we can finish .500 or better that will give us a great shot at the playoffs."