September 21, 2011
The New York Islanders made history on Wednesday: For the first time, they'll have a captain named "Mark."
Oh, wait, there's something more significant? Ah, right: Defenseman Mark Streit(notes) is the first player from Switzerland to be named captain of an NHL team. (If only Reto Von Arx had lasted longer than 19 games with the Blackhawks …)
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."
Back in May, we figured the next captain would be Kyle Okposo or Streit. John Tavares's(notes) contract had us thinking he'd get the 'C', but when his press conference passed without a letter presentation, the speculation went Streit to straight straight to Streit.
Streit joins a rather eclectic group of captains for the Islanders: Denis Potvin during the glory years, Brent Sutter and Patrick Flatley during the transition years, and Alexei Yashin(notes) and Bill Guerin(notes) during the gory years. (We'll assume that unlike Guerin, the Islanders gave Streit a good three minutes notice before announcing him as captain.)
Look, he's a fine choice: Plays in every situation, an ice-time leader, well-respected and signed through 2013. The playoff experience for Streit, such as it is, is also a plus.
But while acknowledging that criticism of a team's choice of captain is akin to criticism of their retired numbers — in that it's an informed personal choice — a symbolic nod to the John Tavares/Kyle Okposo(notes)/Michael Grabner group that's going to eventually lead this team back to contention would have been laudable. Again, as an outsider.