"YOU'RE SETTING YOURSELF UP TO LOOK SILLY"One month from today, the NYI will take Tavares

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As most of you have noticed, since John Tavares visited Long Island two weeks ago I’ve taken to writing not-so-subtle lines like, “After the Islanders take Tavares…” and “Relish the drafting of Tavares.”


Reader Mike from Queens, echoing the sentiments of many emails I’ve received lately, posted this in Comments:


So, now the Isles *will* draft JT?

I hope you’re right, and I respect your testicular fortitude to make that assertion, but you’re setting yourself up to look silly.

Good luck.


For starters, it should be obvious to everyone that I never worry about setting myself up to look silly. If I cared about that, I wouldn’t have written that I’d rather hold on to the first pick and take John Tavares than have Evgeni Malkin on the night Geno and Sid’s Penguins won a spot in the conference final. LOL. (Some fans wrote the deal was a no-brainer, and they’d throw in Kyle Okposo. That was interesting, considering the Islanders once acquired a Hart-nominated Russian center coming off two 40-goal seasons for the second overall pick and a future Norris nominee).


This is how we do the blog. Report what you hear. Write what you feel. Hopefully, the fans respond (oh boy, do they!) and you let the rest take care of itself.


So far, I’m proud to say, the batting average has been pretty good. But there are times, like when I wrote Josh Bailey should go to junior and will go to junior – only to watch the Islanders keep him about five minutes after I posted – well, it happens.


One Islandermaniac contacted me to ask if I was playing up Tavares as a diversionary tactic, a favor to my former colleague Garth Snow. Let me be frank. I worked closely with Garth for a few years. I like the guy. But if my life ever comes down to writing a blog so I can run screens for Garth, really…please just shoot me.


On the subject of John Tavares, I’m an Islanders blogger and this is the franchise’s biggest moment in a long time. I have to take a stand. As a mainstream reporter, blogger or fan, we are faced with two big questions:


1. Who do you think the Islanders should take? I feel strongly that they should take Tavares.


2. Who do you think the Islanders will take? I’m fairly certain the Islanders will take Tavares.



(Here’s an exercise for you. Humor me. Go out and buy a copy of the Draft Preview of The Hockey News. Read it cover to cover. Then write in the Comments section why you think the Islanders should and will draft Victor Hedman, or why you think the Islanders should and will draft Matt Duchene).


To be clear, I may have “testicular fortitude” but I have no stone in the game. I’m not connected to any of the players or their agents. To the fans who say let the Islanders pick the player Snow, Ryan Jankowski and the scouting staff are convinced is the best player available, I hear you completely. That’s exactly what they should do. We can also all agree that the Islanders could use a star at forward and defense.


But as I wrote recently, we don’t get into second-guessing. When it comes to facts, I want to be right first. When it comes to opinions, I want to be right or wrong first. Stir it up. Engage debate. Have some friggin’ fun. It’s hockey, for Terry Crisp’s sake.


If I didn’t write with passion – on a blog called Islanders Point Blank – about what the Islanders should do and will do with the first overall pick, what would be the point of doing this the last eight months?


As of this very moment – exactly one month before the big night – I think the Islanders will select John Tavares with the first overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft. I believe this based on “anecdotal evidence.” (Greg Logan used that term in his live chat with Newsday readers last Monday. I like that). If anything happens in the next month that forces me to re-consider my prediction, I will immediately post a story and the reasons why.


If I maintain my prediction of the team taking Tavares all the way until draft day and the Islanders select Victor Hedman, I’ll have been wrong. And then I’ll just go back to writing the blog the same way I always have: with strong opinions and with a hunger to get as much right as I can.


My opinion that they should draft Tavares will not change over the next month. If the Islanders pick Hedman, you’ll know how I feel. After voting for Tavares since before the lottery win, there will be no point in another month of columns why I disagree with the decision. It will be done.


I’ll absorb the 670 Comments from readers telling me what a turd I am. I’ll simply go back to work. In this case, I’ll just start writing about the Islanders career of a very, very talented 6-6 defenseman from Sweden or the young man some experts believe is the next Steve Yzerman. Or both.


But if I had to put money down, I’d bet on the Islanders taking John Tavares one month from today.