NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario — It has been a whirlwind summer for John Tavares.
In July, he was wooed away from the Islanders by the Toronto Maple Leafs and signed a seven-year, $77 million free-agent contract. Then he married his longtime girlfriend at a vineyard in the Niagara region.
By the time he had his first news media event of training camp last week, Tavares hadn’t even unpacked everything.
“My house is still all in boxes,” he said as a cluster of about 40 reporters leaned in, Wholesale Cheap Jerseys
“so there’s been a lot of trying just to figure out what I have and where it is and trying to get settled.”
But Tavares already knows his way around these parts. As a Maple Leaf, he will now be playing his home games about 25 miles from where he grew up in suburban Oakville.
Tavares, a two-time finalist for the Hart Trophy, the N.H.L.’s most valuable player award, is the first homegrown hockey superstar to play for the Maple Leafs since Charlie Conacher in the 1930s, creating high expectations among fans and the news media.
“Obviously, I have an understanding of that,” said Tavares, who turned 28 on Thursday. “I’ve never been through it. I think that’s some of the unknown. But that’s what comes with being a Maple Leaf. Obviously, pressure just means it’s a great opportunity.”
In his first game in a Maple Leafs uniform, Tavares scored two goals in a 4-1 preseason victory over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday in Lucan, Ontario.
That Tavares, the No. 1 overall pick by the Islanders in the 2009 draft, would be tasked with helping end the Leafs’ 50-season Stanley Cup drought — or that he would play pro hockey at all — was not preordained.