It's official: As expected, defenseman Mark Streit is the new New York Islanders captain.
This isn't the first time Mark Streit's captained a hockey team, and it's not the first time he's captained a bunch of unsung up-and-comers fighting to earn more respect from peers.
Carving out the singular path of an
undrafted [edit: Sorry, 9th-round-pick] Swiss player who makes it in the NHL, Streit's whole career has prepared him to take nothing for granted:
In 1999 he decided to make the leap and spent a year discovering the reality of life in the minor American leagues. From the Tiger Sharks in Tallahassee to the Falcons in Springfield via the Grizzlies in Utah, he learned to live with the breakneck pace of matches played every two or three days, long and tiring journeys and above all the merciless competition between the hundreds of young players all wanting a shot at the NHL.
After years of annual service at the IIHF World Championship, Streit was named captain of Switzerland's 2006 Olympic hockey team, who famously downed Canada and the Czech Republic in the preliminary round. He was valued in Montreal but still cast aside as one of a surplus of "small" defensemen. Then he signed a free agent deal with the Islanders, led the team in scoring from the blueline, and quietly turned in two fantastic seasons before a freak shoulder injury wiped 2010-11 from the books.
It is with this history, in this context, that Streit takes over a young, promising-but-question-laden team at age 33.
Islanders Captain History
- Ed Westfall (handed off)
- Clark Gillies (handed off)
- Denis Potvin (retired)
- Brent Sutter (traded to Chicago)
- Patrick Flatley (let go to the )
- Bryan McCabe (traded to Vancouver)
- Trevor Linden (traded to Montreal)
- Kenny Jonsson (never comfortable, finally asked to relinquish)
- Michael Peca (traded to Edmonton ... after Leafs altered his career)
- Alexei Yashin (bought out, but media puts him back here every. Freaking. Year.)
- Bill Guerin (traded to Pittsburgh)
- Doug Weight (retired)
- Mark Streit
A tradition that started off in legendary form had a few abridged tenures in recent years. We often mythologize the role of captain -- and it surely plays a psychological and logistic role within a hockey team -- but the reality of modern hockey is that captains don't always have storied tenures.
Streit's contract runs for two more seasons. Will Streit's tenure join the annals, or just stop there? Right now it doesn't matter. What matters is the 2011-12 season, with Streit proudly leading the way.
Prior Discussion of the Captaincy at LHH
- This morning: Oh Captain, My Schwingerkonig
- Last night: FanShot from Newday tip
- Last month: An Argument against Young Captains: Why Rush?
- Summer FanPost captaincy poll/dicussions: mdesarmo's in August, and KCNYI's in July.
I'm sure there's enough discussion fodder in all of those for everyone of us to have contradicted ourselves at least once or twice. Now that this announcement is through, thank Streit, hockey's on the way.