John Tavares Committed to Islanders, Agent Says
On Friday, Brisson shot down all speculation.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," Brisson told FanHouse at Heinz Field on the eve of the NHL Winter Classic. "All of that discussion has no merit. John's focus is on staying an Islander for a long time and helping them win. John believes in what the Islanders are doing."
As a result of the team's long losing streak, the Islanders fell 21 points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by mid-December. However, the Islanders' current 6-1-1 streak -- including a 4-3 overtime win in Detroit on Friday night -- has the club regaining some respectability and players regaining confidence. According to Brisson, even before the turnaround, the 20-year-old Tavares never lost faith in the team's long rebuilding program, never hinted about not wanting to be part of the solution.
"Don't get me wrong: John was very frustrated with the losing, very frustrated at times with his own lack of production," said Brisson, who was the agent for Mario Lemieux and represents other recent first overall picks Patrick Kane, Erik Johnson and Sidney Crosby. "But I talked to him at length about two weeks ago, when the losing was at its peak. He made it clear to me he has a lot of respect and appreciation for the franchise, has great friendships with his teammates and loves the community where he lives. He has never pointed the finger at anyone but himself; that's not the kind of young man he is.
"I know the speculation can come with the territory, but what I can tell you is that all of our thoughts are on John staying with the Islanders a long time."
In the victory over the Red Wings on Friday, Tavares had a goal and two assists, raising his totals for the season to 11 goals, 13 assists and a team-leading 24 points in 32 games. Over time, the center's development could be enhanced by the acquisition of more talent, speed and experience on his wings. Brisson is not concerned, saying the bond between Tavares and Islanders general manager Garth Snow is strong.
"John has no complaints at all," said the agent. "He knows that building teams takes time. The Islanders have also been badly affected by a lot of injuries this season. Garth spends a lot of time speaking with John. The Islanders have shown him a lot of respect. John understands that sometimes you have to be patient. He is very confident that everything will work out for him and the Islanders."
This summer, after Tavares completes the second season of his three-year Entry Level contract, the Islanders and Brisson can -- by rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement -- begin discussion about an extension. Said Brisson, "That's a dialogue we would be very open to having."