John Tavares could have joined the Tampa Bay Lighting last summer. Just imagine how that would have shifted the balance of power in the Atlantic Division.
What made his decision to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs sting even more for Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was how impressed with Tavares he was during Tampa’s meeting with him at the Los Angeles-based offices of CAA Sports in the days leading up to July 1.
"What I learned is how thorough he was. That was one of the big things," Cooper said Thursday before the Lightning faced the Leafs. "When we went through that it wasn’t the agents doing the talking, it was John (who) was doing the talking and he was asking appropriate questions. Not fluff. And it wasn’t all just about hockey, it was about life and just different things like that.
"I thought he was pretty thorough."
That was a similar takeaway to the one San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer gave recently about his team’s meeting with Tavares. He had always been an admirer of the player’s game, but came away with a stronger understanding of the person after spending a couple hours in a boardroom with him.
Tavares met with the brass of six teams — Toronto, Tampa, San Jose, Boston, Dallas and the New York Islanders, his former employer — before signing a $77-million, seven-year contract to play for his hometown Leafs.