Islanders fans give Tavares a VERY rough welcome (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

In his first game back on Long Island against his former team after shunning them in free agency seven months ago, John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs were steamrolled by the New York Islanders 6-1 on Thursday night at the Nassau Coliseum. Richardson, who scored three goals last season, netted his first hat trick since October 2010.

This is one of the few wire photos of Islanders fans at Thursday's game that didn't include middle fingers.

Tavares must have known that this would be a difficult homecoming, but it's hard to believe even he would have expected this much pettiness.

Go ahead and criticize Islanders fans, but you all lack the context and understanding of watching almost a decade of a franchise player leave on unfavorable terms. No one's walked in my shoes. His previous career high was just nine. "We go in as a pack of three and dominate, I've just been the lucky one so far".

Tavares, who spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Islanders before signing as a free agent with his hometown Maple Leafs in July, was held off the scoresheet, though he was on the ice for Hyman's goal as well as a second goal by Hyman that was waved off due to offside.

"Everyone thought it was a one-man team", NY head coach Barry Trotz, the favourite to win the Jack Adams Trophy, said recently.

Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee and Valtteri Filppula also scored for the Islanders, who had lost three of their last four.

The deafening Coliseum crowd was temporarily hushed when the Maple Leafs drew first blood on a Zach Hyman goal13:33 into the game. A nifty back-handed pass to the uncovered Islanders captain allowed for an easy finish. "I didn't think it was going to be like that". They played in the playoffs three times with Tavares, never making it out of the second round.

Toronto coach Mike Babcock called the energy from the home crowd "spectacular", and added: "You must be a real special player and a real special person for them to honor you like that because they only boo you if you were important".

"We wanted to come here and win for John, and we didn't get that done tonight".

The Islanders fans in attendance felt otherwise.

Not exactly. In Tavares' "homecoming" to NY on Thursday, he was jeered mercilessly by the Islander faithful, being called a traitor and a Judas, and some fans repurposed his jersey to reflect their true feelings.

The Islanders have improved under Trotz, a Jack Adams Award favorite who left the Washington Capitals to join NY after winning the Stanley Cup last June.

  • Stacy Allen