During a scrum with media members after a news conference announcing his six-year contract extension with the Islanders, John Tavares received a question he's already fielded plenty of times.
The reporter relayed an excerpt from a radio broadcast in his native Canada with an astonished host wondering why the 20-year-old center would ever commit to a team no one cares about. A team no one will ever watch.
"That's just very disappointing to me," Tavares said, candidly. "I think that's wrong judgement about our organization."
Tavares has been the subject of speculation almost as soon as he arrived on Long Island, with several skeptics doubting he'd ever stay.
Thursday's announcement of a $33 million extension that keeps him an Islander through 2018 ended all that talk.
"I don't know if it bothered me as much as I didn't quite understand it," Tavares said. "People might have a misperception about our hockey team, and I know we can get buried under the radar, but I know what it's about here."
Tavares said his signing wasn't meant to be symbolic. He didn't do so with the intent of sending a message. But it did.
"This is about me wanting to be here."