Tavern collecting jerseys for charity

Nick Costa, the owner of Offside Tavern on West 14th Street, is asking hockey fans to donate their jerseys bearing Islander John Tavares's name, rather than burning them, as some have done since the player announced his departure from the Long Island-based squad. Photo: Michael DeSantis
Hockey player John Tavares’s decision to leave the Islanders sparks fury

Fans of the New York Islanders hockey team grew attached to John Tavares during his nine years with the team. They celebrated him being drafted as the Islanders first draft pick in 2009, his nearly 300 goals and his playoff-game winning goals. Tavares was beloved among fans, who were hoping he would help restore the team’s former glory after decades of inept management. But Tavares’ voluntary departure from the Islanders to the Toronto Maple Leafs in July sparked outrage among Islanders fans and they’re now burning their jerseys bearing Tavares’ name.

Nick Costa, a Chelsea bar owner, is proposing an alternative to the jerseys’ fiery fate.

Costa, 36, the owner of Offside Tavern on West 14th Street, is encouraging fans to bring their unwanted jerseys to him instead of burning the expensive memorabilia. On July 1, the day Tavares left the team, Costa put out a tweet that he would offer a 70 percent discount on tabs if fans gave their jerseys to his bar instead of their firepits.

“We’ll make sure they end up in the hands of someone less fortunate (and hopefully make an Isles fan out of them),” the tweet from the Offside Tavern Twitter account stated.

Costa said he will accept jerseys all hockey season, from October to April or May, depending on if a team makes the playoffs. Most Islander fans live on Long Island, a trek from Manhattan, so encouraging fans to come during the NHL season Islanders games makes sense. He hasn’t yet decided on where exactly he’ll donate the jerseys, however.

When Costa read that Tavares was leaving for the Maple Leafs and the subsequent videos of Islander fans burning their jerseys, he said he wanted to do something about it.

“I felt their pain and everything but that’s not the right way to go about dealing with it,” Costa said. “You shouldn’t destroy a perfectly good jersey that someone else could use.”

He constructed the tweet, which currently sits above 900 retweets and nearly 3,000 likes — a lot for a small bar’s Twitter account with 1,600 followers. Costa said he’s only received a few jerseys thus far but is hoping for more once fans come out to his bar for Islanders games.

Costa, a lifelong Islanders fan originally from Westbury, Long Island, said he’s tried to build Offside Tavern into the New York City destination for fans of the team.