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Rick Zamperin: John Tavares should expect a rude reception on Long Island

Toronto Maple Leafs centre John Tavares will be facing off against his former team on Thursday night.
Toronto Maple Leafs centre John Tavares will be facing off against his former team on Thursday night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

On Thursday night, John Tavares will play his first game on Long Island since he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer.

After signing a seven-year, $77-million contract with Toronto, Tavares called playing for the Leafs “a childhood dream,” but his move back home triggered a cavalcade of negativity among New York Islanders fans.

Despite starring for the Islanders for nine seasons, the 28-year-old Tavares should not expect a warm reception when he is “honoured” in a video tribute upon his return to Nassau Coliseum.

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Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has asked fans to respect what Tavares has done for the organization, but that is going to fall on deaf ears.

News 12 Long Island has done a story called “Dear John,” in which Islanders fans record a message for Tavares — and as you can imagine, it’s not pretty.

One fan said: “We thought you were a class act… Looks like it was all just an act.”

Two others call Tavares a “liar, traitor and a snake” and refer to him as “pyjama boy” in reference to Tavares’ viral tweet of him sleeping on Maple Leafs bed sheets as a kid.

READ MORE: Tavares, Matthews, Gauthier score 3 quick goals as Toronto Maple Leafs down Buffalo Sabres 5-3

The best way for the Islanders to get back at Johnny T will be to beat the Leafs on the ice, something the Metropolitan Division leaders have already done this season.

Even if fans mercilessly boo Tavares, he has proven to be a class act — despite what Islanders fans think — and will take it in stride.