It’s been a great month for Islanders fans. It really has.
All things considered, this time of year is usually a tad depressing. The summer weather gradually shifts to cooler temperatures, the wardrobe tends to get heavier and more cumbersome, leaves begin to change colors and then fall to the ground. That being said, the cooler temps mean hockey season is right around the corner.
The Islanders started their training camp last weekend. Several Islanders reported to camp with contracts bearing that still-wet ink look. In case you’ve not heard by now, 2009 First Overall draft pick – John Tavares signed a six-year $33 Million Dollar contract extension. This put to rest many of the rumors (we will call them rumours as they originated to our north…) that Tavares would bolt as-soon-as he reached free agency. Next on Garth Snow’s to-do list was a new contract for Josh Bailey, whom did not sign his qualifying offer earlier this summer. Bailey agreed to terms on a 11th hour deal, a two year contract worth $2.1 Million Dollars.
This means that a majority of the teams core young guys: Okposo, Grabner, Moulson, and now Tavares are locked up for the next five years, at reasonable prices too. Next on the list, as we have all speculated – Frans Nielsen. I expect him to earn a raise as his contract has been a bargain for the last several years.
Today, the Islanders held a press conference – confirming what many of us have speculated on for the last while. Mark Streit was named the franchise’s 13th Captain in team history, and the first Swiss born player in the NHL to be named captain.
From the Islanders Press Release:
The New York Islanders announced today the appointment of defenseman Mark Streit as the 13th captain in the organization’s 40-year history.
Streit, 33, enters his fourth season with the Islanders in 2011-12. He missed the entire 2010-11 campaign with a shoulder injury, but in his first two seasons with the club, Streit led all Islanders in ice-time. He also led the team in scoring during the 2008-09 season, while ranking third in that category in 2009-10.
The Bern, SUI, native becomes the first team captain in National Hockey League history from Switzerland.
“It’s truly an honor to be named the captain of such a historic franchise with a rich history,” Streit said. “To follow in the foot-steps of so many legendary leaders that represented the Islanders is a role I am excited to fill. It is a privilege to be considered one of the leaders of this team and I’m committed to taking this team to the next level.”
The Islanders’ 12th captain, Doug Weight, relinquished the position after two years of service when he retired on May 26, 2011. Streit has served as an assistant captain at various points throughout his three-year Islanders career.
“Throughout his three seasons with the Islanders, Mark has been a steadying presence in our dressing room,” said General Manager Garth Snow. “He is constantly pushing himself to be the very best and demands the same from his teammates. Mark is a leader both on and off the ice and we are pleased to name him the 13th team captain in Islanders history.”
The Montreal Canadiens selected Streit in the ninth round (262nd overall) of the 2004 National Hockey League Entry Draft. In 361 career NHL games, he’s scored 52 goals and 162 assists for 214 points. Streit has also played in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording one goal and three assists.
In international play, Streit has served as captain for Team Switzerland at numerous World Championships and Winter Olympic games. In total, he’s played in 74 World Championship games, 15 Winter Olympic games and 11 World Junior Championship games.
Mark Streit has been one of the most surprising players on this young Islanders squad. Signed as a free agent after spending time in the Montreal Canadiens organization, Streit dominated on the Island. Watching his steady progression has been a great experience. His presence on the back end can be compared, at least in my eyes – to that of Kenny Jonnson. Big hits, timely goals and extremely sound positionally.
It absolutely killed the Islanders when Streit fell to injury last year in training camp, he’s that big of a player for them. Hopefully he’s put the injury behind him and really shines this season.