But all things considered, it's not awful news for Tavares and the Islanders. In meeting with the media, Tavares said that he didn't suffer a full tear of the MCL and as a result won't require surgery. The time frame still still keep him out for the remainder of this season, but at just 8-12 weeks, it shouldn't disrupt next season at all when the Isles get a fresh slate.
With the time frame bleeding into the summer -- going out on the limb here and saying the Islanders aren't making the playoffs -- it should only help Tavares to recover fully. With no pressure to try to return for games this season, there won't be any forcing the issue. He'll have the rest of the season and the summer to recuperate. By the time camp rolls around before next season, the injury should be a thing of the past.
Tavares' injury was another bit of kindling for the fire that is the debate about NHL players and the Olympics. Islanders GM Garth Snow ripped the process after Tavares' injury and while he understands Snow's point of view, Tavares doesn't want to see things change.
"For me as a player, I think it's important for us to play. I think you saw how much we love representing our countries, especially at that level," Tavares said. "But put yourself in his shoes and you can understand why teams are concerned about their players and injuries. Certainly I know he cares a lot about the Islanders and the organization and so do I.
"There's always that concern with this game, there's always that risk when you step on the ice of possible injuries. It's obviously a tough situation but I certainly love playing for my country, and if I got the call again I would."
That's what the argument will come down to in a nutshell is that no matter how the owners feel about it, the players really want to play in the Olympics and they do have a say in the conversation.
In the meantime, the Islanders move on, upset but probably relieved that the news on Tavares could have been much worse.