Earlier this week, The Winnipeg Sun ran a story about a local 11-year-old Islanders fan who never misses a chance to see his favorite team when they're in town to play the Jets. The story takes a dark turn, though, as it reveals the boy, Jake Lotocki, to have been heckled by Jets fans last Tuesday -- after New York won in overtime -- for wearing his John Tavares Isles jersey. The story is especially heart-wrenching when it talks about young Jake "scrunching up" the sweater so the jeers would stop.
Lots of people read the story and were justifiably upset. Among them? The guy whose name Jake was wearing:
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.
Tavares has also invited the young fan to meet the team for their pre-game skate next time they stop in Winnipeg. Hang in there, Jake, just seven more years and you can get out.