John Tavares has finally ended the speculation and signed a contract with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs for the foreseeable future!

John Tavares is coming home. The free-agent center signed a 7-year contract worth 77 million dollars that includes a full no-trade/no-movement clause.

“You get so connected and your roots get so deep in one place where I’d been,” Tavares said. “You go in there [to Long Island] as a 19-year-old and it becomes a part of you, such a big part of your life, that it was really going to take something special, I felt like, to pull me out. [Toronto] tried to show the uniqueness of the opportunity and why the timing was right. And in our conversations, it always just felt right. There was a comfort level, and then some of those feelings as a kid growing up, and how much you enjoy being from here. It felt like it was the right thing to do.”

In deference to the teams he invited to pitch him in L.A. (and a clear sign of how important the entire operation was to him), Tavares went into the courting period open-minded.

The Leafs were up first on Monday afternoon, bringing in a three-man delegation of general manager Kyle Dubas, head coach Mike Babcock and president Brendan Shanahan. Dubas shared his vision of where he thought the Leafs were headed, allowed Shanahan to talk about the franchise at large and left the tactical talk to Babcock, but as ready as Toronto was for their shot to woo the NHL’s biggest free-agent prize in 15 years, Dubas was equally impressed with Tavares’ readiness.

“It was very methodical,” Dubas said. “You go and talk to various free agents and he was by far the most prepared I’ve ever seen. He walked in, had a very detailed list of questions he wanted answered about our style of play, how Mike was going to use him about my visions for the team and how we were going to move it ahead, how we were going to keep the core of the team together, what our strategy was. So he was very, very detailed and direct and I thought that was outstanding.”

Given Toronto’s young core and a complimentary stable of veterans, Tavares has high hopes this team is ready to win big sooner than later.

“You realize how hard it is to win in this league,” said Tavares. “You need good players and talent around you, and certainly with how young this group is here, you like to think that the trajectory that the team and organization is on is a really good one, and will give you a lot of opportunities to be able to do that. I don’t have to come in and try to do everything. I just want to be myself, work as hard as I can, commit myself every day, and be the best player and person I can be.”


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