The National Hockey League is a very broad and diverse league. Since the Miracle on Ice in 1980, it's doors have opened up to the likes of a non-strict North American based player pool. Today, there are countless number of players from countries all over the globe.
For Islanders defenseman Mark Streit, he became the first ever Swiss-born captain of an NHL team in league history.
Kudos to the man who missed all of last season with a major injury. Though the injury, Streit has made quite the name for himself within the NHL. Drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 9th round (262nd overall) in 2004, the offensive minded defenseman has appeared in 361 NHL games with both the Habs and Isles; he Streit has quietly tallied 214 points in that span.
With only four and a half professional seasons under his belt (excluding last year), the blueliner with the booming shot will have quite the task ahead on Long Island this year. Taking over where Doug Weight left off -- a man who was more then just a leader with the 'C' -- will not be easy skates to fill. However, knowing that his coaches and teammates have his back and have faith in him to be a leader speaks in volumes.
From an article on the Islanders official website, Streit was quoted as saying:
"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.”
An honor, and a history making event all in the same day. Not too shabby for the 33-year-old.
For the Islanders, it's just another stepping stone in their path towards the playoffs. With a valid choice for 'C', Streit and his teammates have a silver lining, it seems, leading them into the 2011-12 campaign.
It all starts with the positivity behind the team, with the face of their franchise signing a deal recently to see him stay on the Island... er, with the Islanders for a good amount of time. Not only John Tavares, but Kyle Okposo and company have also been locked in long term, showing their commitment to the organization and their support of GM Garth Snow's five-year plan; as well as their desire and want to stay within the community in Nassau County.
Add Evgeni Nabokov to the mix and you have yourself quite the blend of youth and veteran presence. If Nabby is anything like himself from his San Jose days, Streit and the Islanders could be on the path to a playoff berth this season.
His coach, Jack Capuano, had nothing but positive words for the team's new chosen leader: (from Islanders.com)
“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.”
With a clean bill of health and a full season ahead, Streit and the Islanders are all aiming for one mission, and that mission is the playoffs.
This team has been groomed together for four years. Add Tavares, and now Nabokov to the mix along with a balanced defense and -- when healthy -- an offense gifted with speed, skill and the knack for the back of the net, one things if for certain: Watch out Atlantic Division, the Islanders are back.
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