Sure the Isles are sitting in the NHL cellar with just a month left in the season. But below is a story written in the Winnipeg Sun about an unfortunate event that occurred to an 11 year old Islander fan at the Winnipeg-Islanders game last week. I will say no more about the story, just read the article below.
A Winnipeg Sun story about an 11-year-old hockey fan who was taunted at a Jets game last week has struck a chord with NHL star John Tavares of the New York Islanders.
THURSDAY MARCH 13, 2014
Jake Lotocki is an Islanders fan who attended last Tuesday’s Winnipeg-New York game wearing his Tavares jersey.
But the experience turned ugly when he was jeered by several fans after the game, one getting in his face and yelling, ‘You suck! Go home, loser!”
Tavares, in Toronto rehabbing from a season-ending knee injury, read the story soon after it was posted online at winnipegsun.com, Monday night.
He immediately called the team’s director of communications, Kimber Auerbach, who was with the Islanders as they played in Vancouver.
“He called me during the game and told me he wanted to do something for Jake,” Auerbach told the Sun, Wednesday.
After reading how Lotocki had to leave the arena with his jersey crumpled up so people wouldn’t see it, Tavares suggested sending the boy a new one, autographed by his favourite player.
Auerbach called the Lotocki home Tuesday night and told Jake’s mother of the team’s plans.
“It’s amazing,” Sue Lotocki said. “It’s quite impressive that somebody who was just Jake’s hockey hero turned out to be a true-life hero for him. He really appreciates him making the effort to reach out to Jake in that way. It means a lot to him.”
The Islanders have also promised to invite Lotocki to a game-day skate when they visit Winnipeg next season.
“He’ll get to come down and meet John and some of the other players as well,” Auerbach said.
Tavares wasn’t the only one moved by the story.
The Islanders Booster Club and a Facebook group calling itself New York Islanders Hardcore contacted the Sun offering support and team memorabilia for Jake, while a Winnipeg restaurateur offered to have the family for dinner.
Another fan contacted the Sun offering his season tickets for a game.
“Amazing, generous offers,” Sue Lotocki said. “As a family we’ve decided we will decline anything further. What we’ve received from the Islanders is amazing. There’s no way I could say no to that. But beyond that… getting this dialogue going is what we hoped for.”
Lotocki had said the treatment her son received at the game flew in the face of everything the family teaches about respect in sport. Her son, who’s also a Jets fan, plays hockey and sees some of the problems with overzealous parents.
“And all the stuff going on with minor hockey leagues, we talk about it a lot,” she said. “I guess that’s where I find it hard. I’m trying to teach him how to be a good sportsman, and then you get this.”
The response they’ve received since the story went public has turned a negative into a positive.
“An outpouring of support,” she said. “It’s a really good message for our son to hear: good behaviour gets positive response.”
Lotocki said a representative from True North Sports returned a call from her husband assuring the family the safety and well-being of fans is a priority.