For a team that’s striving to make a postseason run in the 2011-12 campaign, naming the next captain may be one of the most important moments of the New York Islanders preseason.
For All-Star defenseman Mark Streit
, knowing that the coaches, management and his teammates believe him to be the leader that will bring the Islanders back to the Stanley Cup playoffs is an distinction like no other.
“Being named the captain is a huge honor and a great privilege,” said Streit, who was named the Islanders 13th captain in team history Wednesday. “There’s never been a Swiss player named captain in the NHL and it’s a big honor.”
|Islanders General Manager Garth Snow presents defenseman Mark Streit with the captains jersey during a press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. |
He continued, “There have been many legendary players before me who’ve been captain of this team like Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin in the past and Dougie Weight and Billy Guerin. (I have some) very big footsteps to fill, but I’m really excited… This is an unbelievable day for me.”
The Islanders top defenseman may have missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury, but his credentials speak for themselves. Since joining the Islanders during free agency in 2008, Streit’s leadership qualities on and off the ice proved to be what the organization was looking for.
“It’s not just one thing about Mark we feel is going to lead our team, but numerous things,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “I have the utmost respect for the discipline that needs to take place as the coaches leave that locker room and we know Mark is going to be there… I know mark is going to do a fantastic job.”
Streit made his mark in his first two seasons with the team, leading time on ice and quarterbacking the power play.
“I can remember at the time Mark was playing forward in Montreal,” Islanders General Manager Garth Snow said. “I think he’s proven to some of his critics in the past that he is a top-notch defenseman, so we’re ecstatic that he signed here. We’re happy that he’s had the success that he’s had with us and proud of him now that he’s our captain.”
As a three-time Olympian and three-time World Championship participant, Streit isn’t new to wearing the ‘C’. He captained the Swiss National Team in the 2010 and 2002 Winter Olympic Games as well as the 2009 World Championships.
Learning from his previous experience, Streit said he plans to lead by example.
“You do your work on the ice and during the games just lead by example,” Streit said. “You work hard, you sacrifice for the team, and you do everything possible to win hockey games. That’s how I think I will do it.”
|Islanders defenseman Mark Streit addresses the media during the press conference announcing he was named the team's 13th Captain in franchise history on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011. |
Since arriving on Long Island in 2008-09, Streit has been an undeniable asset. In his first season, he became the first defenseman to lead the team in scoring since the ‘70s when Denis Potvin held the record. That same season, Streit became the first Swiss-born player to participate in the NHL All-Star Game. In the 2009-10 season, Streit continued to lead all defensemen in scoring.
Streit’s return to the blue-line will be a major factor in the team’s resurgence, but Snow and Capuano say the club has more than a healthy Streit to be excited for this season.
“From my experience, being an Islander as a player and now as a (general) manager, I came here in July of 2001 and this is the most talent that I’ve seen in this organization,” Snow said.
According to Capuano, the team has turned the page on the rebuilding phase.
“We have nothing on our minds except winning hockey games,” Capuano said. “There are no excuses from here on out. So far camp is going well. The attitudes have been great, the attention to detail. They know the task at hand, what needs to be done, so I’m pretty proud of the effort they’ve made and looking forward to October 8.”
We have a great chemistry and our future looks bright. The future is now. We want to win games. I think we should put the rebuilding part behind us and go out and show what we can do… We are kind of an underdog but we want to do some damage, we want to win some games. - Mark Streit
Even as Streit was happy to be named the team’s new captain, he couldn’t help but remember back to last season, where he watched on the sidelines as his teammates transformed.
“We have a great chemistry and our future looks bright,” Streit said. “The future is now. We want to win games. I think we should put the rebuilding part behind us and go out and show what we can do… We are kind of an underdog but we want to do some damage, we want to win some games.”
With Streit leading the way, the Islanders begin their forward march on the 2011-12 campaign.