Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares returned to jeers and disparaging chants in a game against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night.
Tavares, who spent his first nine seasons in the NHL with the Islanders, stepped on the ice 18 seconds into the first period and was welcomed with boos from the crowd.
Fans chanted "We don't need you!" and various other phrases during pre-game warmups. The Islanders played a 60-second tribute video for Tavares, which led to another chorus of jeers. One member of the crowd threw a jersey at the forward before he exited the ice after warmups.
The Islanders selected Tavares with the first-overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft and he became the face of the franchise. The veteran center had success with the Islanders, scoring 272 goals with 349 assists in 669 games.
Tavares maintained that he wanted to remain with the Islanders leading up to free agency. He reversed course and heard pitches from other teams, eventually signing a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Maple Leafs on July 1, 2018.
Islanders fans felt betrayed, causing a rift between the former franchise player and the fan base.
The Islanders defeated the Maple Leafs 6-1. Tavares didn't tally a point in the contest.