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John Tavares comes through for 11-year-old

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The captain of the New York Islanders took a stand today by an 11-year-old hockey fan harassed for wearing an Islanders jersey in his honour to a Jets game in Winnipeg.

From New York, Islanders’ captain John Tavares acted when he heard about the jeers Jake Lotocki got last week when he wore the #91 jersey.

"He picked up the phone and called the Islanders PR direction on Monday and told him to find Jake Lotocki for him," reads the post today from Dee Karl, New York Islanders Blogger.

"Never one to refuse the request of the captain, the (director) . . . let Jakes’s mother know that John Tavares is sending a new jersey to their house for Jake," the blog said.

And once the schedule is out for the next NHL season, Tavares intends to do more. The team will be back in touch with the Lotocki to hammer out details for Jake and his mother to attend a morning skate when the Islanders are back in Winnipeg.

The blog is getting a lot of buzz for Jake and his hockey hero, judging by this sample comment today: "Grown men screaming at a kid, its pathetic. Good for JT! Class act as always," a fan noted.

Sue Lotocki penned a letter to the editor at the Winnipeg Free Press that ran Monday.

In it, she deplored the reaction fans gave to her 11-year-old son, a New York Islanders fan who showed up in an Islanders jersey at a Winnipeg Jets game last week.

"My 11-year-old son idolizes John Tavares. He was disappointed he wouldn’t have the opportunity to see Tavares play on March 4 against the Jets but proudly wore his #91 jersey to the game," Lotocki wrote the Free Press.

When the Jets lost to the Islanders, the trouble started, she said.

In her letter, Lotocki recounted how her son became a target for fan disappointment. "As we tried to make our way through the crowds, there were taunts and even profanity," she wrote.

She said her son, Jake Lotocki, kept walking and ignored the jeers, "the great little sportsman that he is."

The end of the letter is what got to people: "The night ended with me leading my crying son out of the arena with a treasured jersey balled up in his hands."

That’s the jersey Tavares is replacing now.

Lotocki said the best thing about the response is the support the family received. "Thank you for giving us a voice," she said to the Free Press.

The family’s faith in sportsmanship is restored, she said.

She said the family didn’t send in the letter to seek publicity and they declined photographs.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

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