CM Punk knows how to get some heat from a crowd.
During Wednesday’s episode of All Elite Wrestling’s (AEW) Dynamite from the New York Islanders' home of UBS Arena, the legendary wrestler made his way down to the ring to face the hometown kid John Silver and came through the curtains donning an Islanders jersey. But the joy of seeing a crowd favourite wearing the home team’s sweater lasted mere seconds.
After the 43-year-old did his patented call of “It’s clobberin’ time” at the top of the ramp, he turned his back to the camera to show that it was not the jersey of a current player, but instead the maligned former captain, John Tavares.
Tavares spent nine years on Long Island and five of those as Islanders captain after being drafted first overall by the team in 2009. But as soon as he hit free agency, he signed a massive seven-year deal to go back home and become a Toronto Maple Leaf. It’s certainly a sore spot for fans of New York’s second team.
And Punk, the expert entertainer he has been for decades, was certainly aware of what the reaction would be. Hailing from Chicago, the wrestler is known to be a massive fan of the Blackhawks and keeps up with the NHL as a celebrity puckhead.
The Tavares sting was salt to an existing wound. On Monday, the Islanders fired head coach Barry Trotz after four years of significant success. Despite the downfall this season – New York finished 16 points out of the playoffs – Trotz has earned a reputation of maximizing the talent on his rosters, leading many to question the move. The Islanders made the playoffs the previous three years under his tutelage, reaching the second round twice and the Eastern Conference final in 2020.
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