SBD/Issue 195/Franchises

Islanders Hope John Tavares Will Return Team To Prominence

Islanders See Ticket Sales Boost
Following Selection Of Tavares
Islanders President Chris Dey said that the team “became relevant again” after drafting C John Tavares with the No. 1 pick in Friday’s NHL Draft, according to NEWSDAY. Dey said that “more than $79,000 ticket plans were sold in the first hour after the pick, along with $15,000 worth of Tavares merchandise.” More than 10,000 fans attended the team’s draft party at Nassau Coliseum, and many were "lined up for merchandise as clerks made up" Tavares jerseys on the spot. The Islanders also are “planning a promotion in the next couple of weeks in which fans will be invited to a hospitality event with Tavares if they purchase season tickets now through Sunday” (NEWSDAY, 6/27). In N.Y., Dan Martin wrote it “generally is not a good sign when a team’s draft party draws more fans than many home games, but at least the Islanders sent their faithful home happy” by picking Tavares. Dey said of the turnout, “To get this many people in the middle of June, it’s a statement that this is still a great hockey market.” Dey added that marketing “did not factor into the decision to pick Tavares.” Dey: “That was not a consideration. It’s clearly a boost for business, but this was strictly a hockey decision” (N.Y. POST, 6/28). TSN’s Pierre McGuire prior to the Islanders drafting Tavares commented on the crowd at the Nassau Coliseum for the team's draft party. McGuire: "You just saw that massive crowd down on Long Island. If you get John Tavares there, you’ll get more crowds like that all the time for your hockey team, not just the draft" ("NHL Draft," Versus, 6/26).

Patience Required: NEWSDAY wrote, “Don’t expect to see John Tavares’ face on a billboard overlooking the LIE just yet.” Islanders Owner Charles Wang is “taking the low-key approach with his new No. 1 pick.” Wang: “This is no Jesus-savior kind of thing. This ain’t like getting LeBron James, as good as (Tavares) is” (NEWSDAY, 6/27). On Long Island, Anders Lee wrote Tavares “knows the ropes in terms of fulfilling his responsibilities as the new face of a franchise.” Tavares said the “main thing is you’ve got to win. That’s the biggest thing to attract attention is to bring a winning product on the ice, and obviously, that’s the first step in getting a club that can compete for a playoff spot and make the playoffs” (NEWSDAY.com, 6/27).

STAR POWER: On Long Island, Arthur Staple noted the Islanders are “desperate for a star of some kind,” and they will “market the heck out of Tavares.” They “will do that because they have to, because there’s nothing else to keep the fans coming into the building” (NEWSDAY, 6/27). Staple today writes the Islanders “won the NHL draft … there’s no questioning that,” but they “won’t be doing much more winning through the 2009-10 season” (NEWSDAY, 6/29). On Long Island, Greg Logan wrote Tavares “brings his own star with him to a team that is desperate for the boost at the box office” (NEWSDAY, 6/27). Tavares threw out the first pitch before yesterday’s Yankees-Mets game at Citi Field (NEWSDAY.com, 6/28).

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