On the morning of his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs, center John Tavares autographed a handmade poster of a wide-eyed little girl which said, “Hockeyville = Tavaresville.”
It would prove to be all of that.
Seventy-nine days after signing a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Maple Leafs on July 1, Tavares had two goals and an assist in a 4-1 win against the Ottawa Senators at Lucan Community Memorial Centre as part of Kraft Hockeyville Canada.
“It’s always good to get rewarded,” Tavares said. “I know I’m counted on in that area.
“I don’t try to look at it too deep other than some of the positives areas I know I can be a lot better in and a lot better for my linemates. I just want to build on it. We have some games still to work on things. You want to hit your stride when the season starts, so there’s still time to get there.”
Tavares and Marner (one goal, two assists) each finished with three points and seemed to gain on-ice chemistry as the game progressed.
“I just thought we got better as the game went on,” Tavares said. “It’s just one exhibition game. It’s a start. Good to get things going and get some positive results, but we know we have a lot to work on, to get better at and to feel each other out.
“I think we’re trying to communicate a lot to get better. We know we’re just feeling each other out. We’re trying to get comfortable. I’m still trying to get used to the system. Just keeping things simple and trying to be predictable with one another. It’s a small step. But it’s something we can take as we move forward.”