It was a very up and down week for Toronto Maple Leafs star forward John Tavares, at least it seemed to be for those of us on the outside looking in, but it appears that Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock appeared to see things a different way.
The Maple Leafs were back in Toronto on Saturday night for a very important home game against the Buffalo Sabres, who in spite of being one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League as of late represented two very important points for the Maple Leafs. The game also marked their first game back home since the fiasco that took place in Long Island just a few days before, a fiasco that saw Tavares hit with all kinds of negative chants and boos and also saw the Leafs' thoroughly dominated by a margin of 6 - 1.
As hostile as the crowd was in Long Island however the home crowd in Toronto was just as passionate the other way on Saturday night when they welcomed Tavares back in spectacular fashion. The Maple Leafs set up their pre game introductions in a way that saw Tavares name announced last, and prior to announcing him they shone a big bright spotlight on him, causing the crowd to erupt in an incredible ovation. The moment was obviously designed to provide a balance or to counteract the jeers from the fans in Long Island, but Babcock believes that both reactions were much more similar than each fan base believes.
"It was great, but I also thought the people in New York showed the passion they have for John the other night too ... when you get booed on the road, you must be something special. That's the way I look at that."
The comments come off as a defense of the fans in Long Island who have been harshly criticized for their treatment of Tavares last week, including by former NHL players like Sean Avery. That being said Babcock was also quick to praise the fans in Toronto and added that he feels Tavares made the right choice in the end.-
"Our fans obviously wanted to support him in here tonight. He's an important part of our team, he made a great decision for himself & for his family. To me, that's how you make decisions anyway. We're thrilled to have him."