Lamoriello: Unfair to criticize Tavares for leaving Islanders

The Score

Saturday night will be a memorable one for both John Tavares and Lou Lamoriello.

For Tavares, it will mark the first game against his former club, the Islanders, since he elected to fulfill a childhood fantasy and sign with the Maple Leafs on July 1. As for Lamoriello, Saturday's visit to Scotiabank Arena will be his first since he stepped down as Toronto general manager and joined New York.

While Lamoriello's return is certainly a captivating story, it won't quite match the emotions that players on both teams are sure to feel as Tavares suits up against the club that drafted him first overall in 2009 and helped develop him into the superstar he is today.

For many Islanders fans and possibly a few former teammates, there is likely to be some bitterness toward Tavares' decision to seemingly jump ship, but Lamoriello contests that the five-time All-Star had every right to sign elsewhere.

"First of all, I knew him as a player by seeing my teams play against him," Lamoriello told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. "I got to know him as a person and got to spend time with he and his wife; he's as great a person as he is a player. It's unfair for any criticism that he has received because he had every right to make that decision. He gave everything he had when he was here. He had a right to do it. So I don't think anybody should begrudge him for any decision that he made because that was his right."

#hockey, #professional

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