Winning free agency doesn’t always equate to winning hockey, although it’s been a long while since the NHL had a free agent like John Tavares.
Still, it isn’t difficult to concoct a scenario where things might not have gone so well for a 28-year-old arriving into hockey’s largest market with the league’s second-highest cap hit and sky-high expectations.
And yet, through the first segment of games the Toronto Maple Leafs have played with Tavares, he’s come exactly as advertised and been worth every penny of the $15-million he was paid in a signing bonus on the afternoon he chose Toronto over five other free-agent finalists.
"What I like about him is he’s a pro. What I like about him is he’s calm," said coach Mike Babcock. "What I like about him is he doesn’t – none of this [media attention] matters, he’s just going to come and do his job and he’s a man.
"I think it’s given Patty Marleau and [Ron] Hainsey and those guys another ally and good leadership."