Leafs captain John Tavares
Photo credit: NHL

John Tavares shows some spine, goes after the NHL's all time hits leader

Published February 6, 2024 at 9:12

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the All-Star break having won 4 of their previous 5 games and had really seemed to be heating up at a crucial point in the season. However, coming out of the break, the Leafs blew a golden opportunity to extend their win streak to 4 games, dropping a 3-2 decision at home in regulation to the New York Islanders.

The Isles were the aggressors in this one, out-hitting the Leafs and playing with much more of an edge. The Leafs did show some fight in this one, but unfortunatelty it was too little, too late.

As Leafs captain John Tavares was jockeying for position in front of the Islanders' net late and looking for the equalizer, he took a cross-check from Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck. Tavares was not a fan of the play and actually went after the league's all-time hits leader as the final horn sounded, showing some spine and leading to a bit of a line brawl to end the game.

Prior to the start of the game, Sheldon Keefe told the Leafs that he wanted them to ramp things up and play playoff hockey throughout their final 35 games in preparation for the postseason. This play was an uncharacteristic one from Tavares, who has never been much of a roughneck on the ice during his 15-year NHL career. Clearly the message has been received by the team. Unfortunately, Tavares showed some bite just a little too late in this one.

If the team's top players do adopt a more physical style as we approach the playoffs, it can only bode well for the team's chances when the games do start to matter and the physicality increases. And if Tavares, as the captain of the Leafs, leads by example, the team will follow.
February 6   |   1147 answers
John Tavares shows some spine, goes after the NHL's all time hits leader

Is John Tavares capable of leading the Leafs to a Stanley Cup victory?

I don't think he's the guy66958.3 %
Yes, JT is a great captain47841.7 %
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