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 Post subject: bigger than yourself.”Wh
PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:12 am 

Joined: Sat May 05, 2018 5:28 pm
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John Tavares needed to post only one picture on his Twitter account to explain the grip the Maple Leafs have had on him since he was a youngster growing up in suburban Toronto.

The photo featured a not-yet-10-year-old Tavares in bed DJ Chark Jaguars Jersey , asleep on a pillowcase and under a blanket adorned with Maple Leafs logos, and accompanied by a note that read: ”Not everyday you can live a childhood dream.”

In bidding farewell to the New York Islanders, where he was the captain and face of the franchise since being drafted with the No. 1 pick in 2009, Tavares chose Toronto and agreed to a seven-year, $77 million contract about an hour after the NHL’s free-agency signing period opened Sunday.

The 27-year-old Tavares spent last week assessing offers from the Islanders, San Jose, Toronto, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Boston. He called his decision the toughest of his life in choosing between staying in New York or taking ”a calculated leap of faith into an opportunity I believe will be special to me and my family.”

In the end, he was unable to avoid the lure Toronto presented, and informed the Maple Leafs he had chosen them late Saturday night.

”I just felt this opportunity was just so rare, the timing of where the organization’s at, and obviously the connection being from here,” Tavares said. ”I really believe there’s a big window here to win, to be part of something special. It just felt right.”

Tavares, whose 306 points over the past four seasons rank sixth among players over that span, was the highest-profile player to hit the market since the Minnesota Wild signed both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to matching 13-year Anthony Miller Bears Jersey , $98 million contracts.

Tavares’ signing led to a domino effect in player movement.

Toronto lost two forwards in free agency. James van Riemsdyk left the Maple Leafs after six seasons to return to Philadelphia, where he signed a five-year, $35 million contract. The Leafs also lost center Tyler Bozak, who signed a three-year, $15 million contract with St. Louis, which later on beefed up down the middle by acquiring Ryan O’Reilly in a blockbuster trade with the Buffalo Sabres.

Some of money the Lightning saved by not landing Tavares was spent on signing defenseman Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year, $47.25 million extension, which kicks in next summer.

Paul Stastny caused another ripple of moves in the Western Conference. He left Winnipeg to sign a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Stanley Cup finalist Vegas Golden Knights – a spot left open after David Perron returned to St. Louis by signing a four-year, $16 million deal.

Vegas forward James Neal is among the more high-profile free agents still unsigned.

In Nashville, the Predators will turn their attention to negotiating a contract extension with defenseman Ryan Ellis, who is entering the final year of his contract. The Ottawa Senators are expected to do the same with their captain, Erik Karlsson.

Tavares’ signing has the potential of shifting the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.

He joins a young, talented group that already features Auston Matthews, the 2016 draft’s No. 1 pick, a veteran presence in Patrick Marleau and a top coach in Mike Babcock.

The Leafs, who haven’t won a championship since their last Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1967 Andy Dalton Jersey , have made strides in three years since Babcock’s arrival. Toronto has made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons after qualifying just once in the previous 11. And yet, they have not advanced past the first round since 2004.

Tavares specifically referenced Matthews and 21-year-old center Mitchell Marner, who led the Leafs with 69 points last season as reasons to be optimistic.

”They’ve accomplished so much in such little time. You can only think about the trajectory they’re on, and that’s what gets me excited,” Tavares said.

The Islanders experienced struggles even with Tavares by qualifying for the playoffs just three times in nine seasons.

Now they face a daunting uphill climb minus their unquestioned leader and point-a-game producer. In a bid to retain Tavares, the team underwent an organizational makeover in recent months. They hired Lou Lamoriello as president of hockey operations and fresh Stanley Cup winner Barry Trotz as coach.

”The New York Islanders would like to thank John Tavares for everything he has done for the franchise throughout his nine seasons,” Lamoriello said in a statement released by the team. ”We wish him and his family all the best.”

Bruins GM Don Sweeney expressed one lament in losing out on signing Tavares.

”I would have preferred it not be in our division,” Sweeney said, referring to Tavares making the switch from the Metropolitan to Atlantic Division. ”We put our best foot forward. It just didn’t fall our way.”

Other notable deals:

-Veteran defenseman Jack Johnson signed a five-year, $16.25 million contract with Pittsburgh. The 31-year-old Johnson is a 12-year NHL veteran, who spent the past six-plus seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

-The Colorado Avalanche added two former Blue Jackets in signing defenseman Ian Cole and forward Matt Calvert to three-year deals. Cole gets $12.75 million and Calvert gets $8.4 million.

-The Sabres filled a need at goaltender by signing former St. Louis Blues backup Carter Hutton to a three-year, $8.25 million deal. Hutton will share the starting duties with Linus Ullmark, who is pegged to make the jump to Buffalo after three seasons in the minors.

-The Arizona Coyotes signed All-Star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year contract exte 鈥?The only thing that Saquon Barkley has to prove at the NFL combine this week is that he’s every bit as good as advertised.“For a guy like Barkley who has worked so hard to develop his gifts, I mean, for him it ought to be a victory celebration. It really should,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “You got to come in and knock it down, one drill after another.“He’s going to walk out of there four days later and everyone’s going to go: ‘Wow Cheap Quenton Nelson Jersey , he’s just as good or better than we thought he was.'”Then, there would be no doubt that a running back will go in the top five picks of the draft for the third consecutive year, joining Ezekiel Elliott in 2016 and Leonard Fournette in 2017.The Penn State star might even be the first running back selected in the top two picks since Reggie Bush in 2006 or even the first to go No. 1 overall since another Nittany Lion, Ki-Jana Carter, in 1995.“I’m just focused on coming out here and trying to dominate this combine,” Barkley said.Everyone expects him to do just that.General managers and coaches know all about the 5-foot-11, 233-pound back with a magnificent medley of jaw-dropping quickness and excellent acceleration, speed, balance, vision and power to go with an off-the-charts work ethic who helped Penn State dismantle Washington’s vaunted defense in the Fiesta Bowl .Mayock said Barkley will dazzle teams even when he’s not on his feet.“When he goes into meetings at night,” Mayock said, “he’s going to blow people away.”Barkley, who grew up boxing like his father and great uncle but was always drawn more to the gridiron than the ring, quickly rose to national prominence as one of the country’s most dynamic players as a true freshman at Penn State in 2015.He flashed a frenetic running style to compile a lengthy highlight reel full of hurdles, spin moves and jukes on his way to a program-best 43 rushing touchdowns in three years.Mayock said Barkley is at least equal to the last four top-10 running backs 鈥?Fournette, Elliott, Todd Gurley and Christian McCaffrey 鈥?all of whom made their teams significantly better as rookies.“I could make the case that this kid Barkley is the best of those guys Derrius Guice Jersey , best of all five of them,” Mayock said. “He’s clean off the field. And he’ll be great in your locker room. I would be absolutely stunned if this kid doesn’t go in the Top 5.”The Browns, Giants and Colts own the top three picks in next month’s draft. Cleveland also owns No. 4 and Denver has the fifth selection.“Any team that wants to draft me,” Barkley said, “is a blessing to me.”Barkley said he embraces the chance to transform a downtrodden team like the Browns, who have one win in two years, or the Giants, coming off a down year: “You want to be part of something like that, something that’s bigger than yourself.”Whoever ends up choosing Barkley can expect to be picking a lot later in next year’s draft. (Fournette’s Jaguars are picking 29th this year, five picks after McCaffrey’s Panthers).Barkley averaged nearly 6 yards a carry as a junior in State College, rushing for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns and catching 54 passes for 632 yards and three TDs. He also completed two passes 鈥?one for a score 鈥?and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.He won the Paul Hornung Award as college football’s most versatile player and left Penn State after his junior year just 89 yards shy of the program rushing record with 3,843 yards.“I feel whether I’m running the ball from the 99-yard line or the 1-yard line that I can find a way to get into the end zone. I can do it all, I feel like,” Barkley said. “I can go over the top of you, I can beat you with speed, I can beat you with some wiggle Marcedes Lewis Jersey , I could run through you.”That may come off as boastful, but not when Barkley says it.He said he watches all of today’s great NFL running backs but models his game after none of them.“I’ve never wanted to be like anybody,” Barkley said. “That’s something that my dad taught me growing up: ‘Never want to be like someone, be the next you.’ But I am a fan of the game, I’m a fan of the position and I watch everyone.” Including Barry Sanders on YouTube .If he had to pick anyone he’d like to be like, it’d be the Lions’ Hall of Famer.“That was a great guy that I looked up to growing up not only on the field 鈥?off the field. The way he carried himself, he was humble,” Barkley said. “When he scored a touchdown, he’d give the ball to the ref. If you look at his football life, he’s carrying cups to his offensive linemen, and I think that’s what a running back should be about. That’s what our position should be about and I try to model myself after that.”.


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