Free agency period in the NHL is always a bit of a whirlwind. High profile players going to free agency are always followed by rumours and gossip, such as this summer’s biggest name, forward John Tavares.
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced the signing of the Mississauga-native on Canada Day after he spent 11 seasons in the New York Islander’s organization (one season with the London Knights in the OHL and one season with SC Bern during the 2012 lockout). The Maple Leafs found the number one centre they always wanted and didn’t have to wait for one to develop into their full potential, such as Auston Matthews.
They also locked down the centreman for seven years at $11 million per season and signing a player with 621 points in 669 games is definitely franchise altering for the long-suffering Maple Leafs.
However, it took less than a few hours or so to push the hockey world back into the background after it was announced that NBA mega superstar LeBron James signed a four-year deal worth $153.3 million with the Los Angeles Lakers.
James is already 33 and has played with two teams (Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat) and has won three NBA titles in the past seven years.Considered to be one of the best basketball players ever to grace the court, James will be joining the most successful basketball team in the NBA. The Lakers have won 16 titles, most recently in 2010. Since then, the franchise has faltered and failed to make the playoffs since the 2013-14 season.
Now with James in the fold, the fanbase in LA will be really hopeful they will see another Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy in the near future.
Toronto fans, with the 27-year-old Tavares as the new face of the team, will also be hoping to see the Stanley Cup brought into the city for the first time since 1967.
Even though James’ contract eclipses the one given to Tavares, the latter’s signing is more franchise altering than the other. Toronto may have already been on the up and up since the drafting of William Nylander, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner but the team has struggled for decades despite being one the NHL’s powerhouses pre-expansion era.
This is the first time the Lakers have faced any sort of adversity, only missing the playoffs five times between 1948 and 2013 (including the 11 years they were located in Minnesota) but I don’t think anyone would have expected the Lakers to suffer long, even if they didn’t sign James due to the NBA’s higher salary cap and the attraction of Los Angeles.