Hearsay: Tavares ready to lead Islanders

New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates with goalie Evgeni Nabokov (20).
August 11, 2013, 10:38 PM

Hockey Hearsay compiles stories from around the hockey world and runs weekdays, 12 months a year.

TAVARES READY TO LEAD ISLANDERS

Newsday asserts John Tavares has been the Islanders’ best player, their most important player, from the moment he stepped onto the ice wearing No. 91 a little more than four years ago.

He’ll turn 23 next month and he may be named captain of the Islanders around the start of training camp.

“I think he’s ready,” said goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who became tight with Tavares last season. “We knew last year that he was a leader, not just on the ice. He’s not extremely vocal, but he’s vocal when he needs to be. He’s a very mature guy for 22, and he’s our superstar.”

Newsday also notes Kyle Okposo, whose slow starts the past couple of seasons had become a maddening trend, came to Tavares toward the end of last season to pick his teammate’s brain about training.

“It really started clicking with me that I needed to take that next step, and Johnny ups his game every year,” Okposo said. “So we talked a lot about a bunch of different things, and I found someone to help me with some on-ice things the final month of the season. It’s no coincidence that was when I had my best games.”

EXPERT: HARRIS COULD TURN DEVILS AROUND FINANCIALLY

The Star-Ledger profiles new prospective New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris, noting just how bleak things had looked for the Philadelphia 76ers two years before he came and rescued the NBA franchise.

Since then, attendance and revenues have soared and the bottom line has the club at least breaking even. A team bought by Harris for $287 million now has an estimated worth of about $418 million.

If anyone could turn around the team’s fortunes it would be Harris, said Scott Rosner, a sports economics professor at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“If you look at how he has made his fortune, it’s basically through buying distressed properties, injecting cash and turning them around,” Rosner said. “So the Devils would certainly fit the bill.”

CROSBY, CELEBRITIES GET STAR DMV TREATMENT

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes a spokeswoman for the Penguins confirmed that Sidney Crosby, who turned 26 on Aug. 7, renewed his driver’s license on Friday.

Why was this in the paper? Read on.

State officials said that rather than contain the fan chaos surrounding Crosby and other celebrities, they want to keep it from starting at all. As a result, supervisors of Department of Motor Vehicle offices throughout the state decide whether and when to let famous people — whose presence might actually make customers’ wait time longer — go to the head of the line, said Jan McKnight, a spokeswoman for the motor vehicles department. The decision is based on how much potential the celebrity has to create a furor that causes delays for everyone, she said.

“If they walk in and the place goes crazy with fans, we would just move them in and out,” she said. “It’s a matter of keeping control and keeping disruptions to a minimum.”

Naturally, there were people in line that day that weren’t happy with Crosby’s ‘star treatment.’

Is it hockey season yet?

PRUST LIKES HABS’ ADDITION OF PARROS

Canadiens forward Brandon Prust tells The Montreal Gazette he’ll soon make the acquaintance of incoming heavyweight George Parros, whose bad attitude will permit Prust to keep his knuckles under wraps a little more.

“Sometimes, you’re looking over your shoulder at their big guy who’s coming after you,” Prust said of opponents.

And then he laughed.

“But now that I have a good big guy, I don’t have to look as much. It’s always good to have a little extra help. George has been around a while. I hear he’s a great guy and teammate and I know he’s going to be doing some of the dirty work with me.

“I’m not going to change anything I do,” he said of his aggressive style. “But I think I enjoyed George’s (acquisition) more than anybody else on the team.”

BLUES’ OWNERSHIP INVESTING IN TEAM

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch indicates recent Blues’ contracts have led to questions about whether ownership can afford to sustain such a hefty payroll, one that will have the team near the NHL’s $64.3 million salary cap in 2013-14. The Blues, minority owner Tom Stillman says, still are battling for corporate support in the community.

“There is a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing because we need to invest in the team and put a strong team on the ice,” he said. “We are counting on that resulting in stronger support from the community, stronger revenues, leading to stability for the franchise.

“If we get the serious increase in support that we’re looking for, yeah, then we can sustain it. We’ve come in here, we’re doing our part … we’re investing in the team. I hope that people see what we’re doing and conclude that we’re serious about this — we’re not all talk, we’re not all hat — and that we’re going to do what we said we would do.”

On why the team made the increased financial commitment: “If you look at our roster, we had a young team that is coming into the middle stages of their careers, where they’re going to start to get paid more,” Stillman said. “If we were going to keep them together, it meant a higher investment level.

“If we weren’t willing to invest more, we were going to have to lose some key pieces and that’s not what we wanted to do. It would be hard to maintain the contending team that we want to have, but it would also send the wrong message to our fans and supporters.”

WHAT THEY’RE TWEETING ABOUT

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