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Lee Honored, Humbled By Islanders Captaincy

"It's definitely one of the most special things that's happened in my hockey career," says Lee.

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

Anders Lee received the hockey equivalent of a standing ovation as he led stretches at the New York Islanders morning skate. 

Forming a circle around Lee, the Isles tapped their sticks on the ice, letting out a few cheers for their new leader, who was tapped as the 15th captain in franchise history on Thursday

"It's extremely humbling and quite an honor and to be a captain of this organization," Lee said. "It's definitely one of the most special things that's happened in my hockey career and I'm looking forward to it and the responsibility that comes with it." 

Lee, who scored a career-high 40 goals last season, said he found out about the captaincy during the team meetings on Thursday, as the Isles prepped for their season opener against Carolina. After practice, he received a congratulatory phone call from Denis Potvin, who captained the Islanders during the dynasty years. 

Video: Lee on Isles Captaincy

"Growing up as a young hockey player, you always look at those captains and what they bring to the team and what they do for each other, every one of their teammate and the organization," Lee said. "To now be in one of those spots is extremely special and extremely humbling. It really is quite an honor."

Barry Trotz, who had publicly floated the prospect of the Islanders having no captain this season, said it was clear in his talks with the players that Lee commanded the utmost respect from the team and was an easy choice to wear the C. 

"It was clear to me, clear as day that Anders would be the 15th captain of the Islanders," Trotz said. "There was no formal vote, we didn't have to have it, they all said it during the summer and in training camp." 

Mathew Barzal said Lee was the perfect choice for the Islanders, just based on his work ethic and character. 

"You couldn't have picked a better guy for this team," Barzal said. "If anyone brings hard work and consistency and good energy every day it's him. In practice and in workouts, he's doing everything he can, everything right and he's such a good leader for me." 

Barzal recalled how Lee took him to lunches during his first summer with the Islanders when the 18-year-old stayed for some extra work on Long Island. Barzal said it's just one example of how Lee looks out for his teammates. 

"He's been that kind of guy for me and I look up to him a lot," Barzal said. "We couldn't have picked a better captain."

Video: Barry Trotz on Naming Lee Captain

Off the ice, Lee has been active in the community, raising over $200K in his annual Kancer Jam. His community involvement was another reason his teammates said he earned the captaincy. 

"It all factors into how he is as a person and how we all feel about him," said Josh Bailey, one of the three alternate captains with Cal Clutterbuck and Andrew Ladd. "If you could get a video of the bench when he scored his 40th goal last year that would say it all."

This isn't Lee's first time being a team leader either, as he captained the Notre Dame hockey team in 2012-13, but doing it at the NHL level carries a different level of gravitas. 

Lee with the last word on his first day as captain.

"It's just a huge honor for them to think that highly of me and trust me in this position." 

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