Tavares won't return to Islanders, agrees to 7-year deal with Toronto

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UNIONDALE -

After days of speculation about the captain's next move, John Tavares has announced that he won't return to the Islanders.

He's headed to the Toronto Maple Leafs with a seven-year, $77 million deal.

Tavares revealed the news on Twitter on Sunday, posting a picture of himself as a child in Maple Leafs bedding.

In a message to fans posted to his Twitter account, Tavares said, "The Island, the fans, the organization, my teammates will always be special to me and my family but it's time to live my childhood dream here in Toronto."

The 27-year-old point-a-game playmaker met with the Leafs, the slanders, San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars over the past several days in Los Angeles to hear their pitches for his services.

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Tavares had 37 goals and 47 assists for 84 points in 82 games for the Islanders last season. He has 621 points in 669 career regular-season games.

Losing Tavares is a crushing blow to the Islanders, who have undergone an organizational makeover in recent months under still relatively new owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky. They hired Lou Lamoriello as president of hockey operations and fresh Stanley Cup winner Barry Trotz as coach.

But in a message on Twitter, Tavares said he felt fortunate to join a team with "a great young core."

AP wire services contributed to this report.

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