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Mark Streit: Ice runneth through his veins

Streit, who played a team-high 28-minutes per game [for Switzerland at the World Championships], said that while he personally did not feel added pressure to perform in front of the home crowd, he acknowledged that it may have affected the team overall.

"I’ve played in Montreal and now here in New York, and when you play in this league there is pressure every night," said Streit, who was Switzerland’s captain. "I didn’t put too much pressure on my shoulders, I just wanted to enjoy it. But maybe as a team, we were not as loose as we could have been..."

>>New York Islanders official site

Not really news or a big deal 'n all that, but I just feel like it's time to start building the Legend of Streit.

I like the idea of him leading his team of Swiss underdogs at home, in front of those rabid Swiss fans, and essentially telling his teammates: "Guys, relax. I was drafted in the 9th round. The NHL didn't come for me 'till I was 26. I had to bust my tail through the most storied franchise they have, and then I had to prove I'm near-Norris caliber -- not just some powerplay specialist -- by carrying the worst team in the league on my back. So this stuff here? It's nothing."

We have at least four seasons left of Streit on the Island, in a defenseman's athletic prime at 31, and he's going to be a crucial part of this team's climb back to the respectable tier of the league. By all accounts, he's far from done improving his game, which is already world-class. A guy like this, who had "no shot" as late as his mid-twenties, is surely possessed by a determination and singularity of focus that you don't see as much among guys who were touted and followed since puberty, with everyone and their brother telling them they're a star.

2008-09 - Mark Streit 74 16 40 56 6 62 10 1 1 114 25:13 150 10.7

He doesn't throw many huge hits -- because he doesn't need to. In every other respect Streit's strengths are perfect for today's game: Great puck-mover, hard accurate shot, good speed, and superb hockey intelligence that informs his defensive coverage. It doesn't hurt that he's totally calm under pressure, either. Part of that, I suspect, is fueled by how hard he had to work to get here, and thus he doesn't take his presence in this league for granted.

For Islanders fans, I suspect the joy of having Streit on board has only just begun. As the team slowly improves from last year's bottom, it's time to build his legend and watch it grow. So tell your friends: Streit is for real.