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How John Tavares helped 11-year old bullied fan from Winnipeg

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy
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UNIONDALE, NY - FEBRUARY 08: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders in action against the Colorado Avalanche on February 8, 2014 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The Avalanche defeated the Islanders 5-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jake Lotocki is an 11-year old New York Islanders fan who lives in Winnipeg. When the team visited the Jets last week, Lotocki and his family attended, with the youngster donning the jersey of his favorite player, John Tavares.

Wearing the jersey of the opposing team at MTS Centre would certainly bring some heckling, that comes with fandom, and Lotocki's parents warned him prior to heading to the game that might happen. But after the Islanders won 3-2 in overtime, he soon became a target of a handful of fans' anger.

From the Winnipeg Sun:

Mom got him away from the crowd, where she thought they’d be able to leave the arena in relative peace.
“And then there was this man who just sort of bolted out of nowhere and ran right up to him, in his face, and shouted at him,” she said.
I don’t know what kind of person can scream ‘You suck!’ or ‘Go home, loser!’ into an 11-year-old’s face. But I imagine they’d yell similar sentiments at teenaged refs or opposing kids at a youth game.
In tears, Jake scrunched up his Tavares jersey so people wouldn’t see it.

There's a happy ending to this story. While watching the Islanders play in Vancouver Monday night, Tavares, who's out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, saw the story and immediately wanted to help. He reached out to the team's PR director, Kimber Auerbach, who then got in touch with the Lotecki family, according to the Sun.

Tavares' solution? He'll be sending a brand new signed Islanders jersey and Jake will attend an Islanders morning skate when the team travels back to Winnipeg next season and meet Tavares and some of his teammates.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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