Islanders fans weren’t happy with center John Tavares in July when he left the team to join the Maple Leafs and it looks like nothing has changed.
Tavares was booed mercilessly on Thursday in his return to Nassau Memorial Coliseum.
It started before the game when the Leafs were out on the rink for warmups.
The boo birds are out early for John Tavares in warm-ups pic.twitter.com/lCY6Yhh6Fk
— SNY (@SNYtv) February 28, 2019
It continued as a fan threw a Tavares jersey onto the ice during the pregame skate.
A fan threw a sweater at John Tavares when he exited the ice after warmups.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 28, 2019
And the jeers kept going when he was announced during pregame introductions. Some fans went as far as to chant “We don’t need you” from the stands.
“We don’t need you” is the chant near the Toronto tunnel as Leafs prepare to come out for warm-up
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) February 28, 2019
Fans booed even louder during a video tribute the Islanders played during the first period.
— Newsday Sports (@NewsdaySports) March 1, 2019
Tavares left the Islanders to sign a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Maple Leafs this offseason.
He said he knew he was going to be in a hostile environment, but expressed excitement for Thursday’s matchup between two potential playoff teams.
“It’s hard to believe we’re back here for an NHL hockey game, a game that has a lot of meaning,” he said, via TSN. “Certainly, the set-up is a little different, but it’s a special building. I love this place.”