John Tavares, star forward for the Long Island Islanders hockey team and playing for Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics, suffered a season ending injury when he tore a medial collateral ligament and a meniscus in his left knee. Tavares will reportedly stay with the Canadian team for its final games in Russia. No doubt he wanted to remain a force for victory with the team but, sadly, John Tavares finds these Sochi Olympics hazardous.
Tavares will likely need surgery when he returns to the U.S. to repair the damage and resume his NHL career. Hockey’s training camp begins next September.
The injury occurred during Canada’s quarterfinal game with Latvia. Tavares tried to wedge his way along the board but his left leg collided with Latvia’s Arturs Kulda and then the board itself. At first it was thought that the injury was less serious and that he might return for Canada’s next game. However, an MRI exam revealed the full scope of the damage. Only 23-years-old, Tavares is expected to bounce back.
What makes Tavares’ injury more heartbreaking, particularly for Canada supporters, is the upcoming game with the United States. The Canada-U.S. hockey rivalry has become one of the biggest in sports. At one time the major hockey rivalry was Canada and Russia until the U.S. became a dominant force in hockey while Russia slipped. Russia was ousted from the Sochi Olympics by Finland and did not play in the gold medal game four years ago in Vancouver. Fans were anticipating the Canada-U.S. semifinal game to be like a heavyweight boxing match.
Unfortunately for his professional team, the Islanders, Tavares, also the team’s captain, leads the squad with 66 points. He has only missed a handful of games in his four seasons after being the number one pick in the 2009 NHL draft. Unfortunately, John Tavares finds these Sochi Olympics hazardous. On Feb. 27 the New York Islanders return from the Olympic break. With 22 games to go, the Islanders are 12 points out of the final playoff spot.
Tavares would have been a major weapon in Canada’s bid for a top medal spot in Sochi. The Canadians had previously defeated Norway, Austria, and Latvia and tied with Finland. It was Finland who knocked out the Russians.
Fans well remember the 2010 Winter Olympics when the games were played in Vancouver on Canada’s home turf. The U.S. stunned Canada 5-3 in pool play to win its group and go into the knockout round. The subsequent gold medal game between Canada and the U.S. was hailed as a “game of the century” with Canada winning in overtime 3-2 after a near last second goal by the Americans tied the game in regulation.
Tavares is no stranger to international hockey play. He represented Canada at five International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) events including the 2010 and 2011 world championships. He won gold medals in 2008 and 2009 at the under 20 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. In the 2009 tournament he was named the most valuable player after scoring eight goals and 15 points in six games.
This season the New York Islanders have won 22 games and lost 30 and are currently in eighth place in the Metropolitan division of the NHL Eastern Conference.
Although the Islanders are currently struggling, the franchise used to be dominant. The team won four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships between 1980 and 1983. Sine the 1987 season, the team has not won a division title, and their last playoff series win was during the 1992-93 NHL season.
Players like Tavares are looked upon to help restore the Islanders to their former glory. The recent injury should not deter his career too much. For the moment, however, John Tavares finds that the Sochi Olympics have been hazardous.
By Jim McCullaugh