Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Isles Name Streit Captain, More Coliseum Talk

Yesterday, the New York Islander answered the big question on everyone's mind, handing Mark Streit the reigns and naming him team captain.

I'm sure there are those who've expressed their disagreement with the selction, but I feel he was the best man for the job.

Sure, it wasn't the sexiest pick, and if the Isles were trying to grab headlines, they'd have named John Tavares the captain at his recent press conference.

Furthermore, veterans Brian Rolston and Marty Reasoner weren't in the running to begin with, simply because they probably won't be here for long and haven't been with the team long enough (or at all, for that matter) to be able to play the part.

That being said, guys like Rolston and Reasoner don't necessarily need a letter on the front of their jerseys in order to lead. I have little to no doubt that there's plenty the Isles' young guns can learn from them, and that players such as Tavares, Michael Grabner, Okposo and Bailey will take advantage of that.

All things considered, it is the right choice. Mark Streit has leadership experience, primarily in international play as captain of Team Switzerland, a position he's held since 2006. He lead the Swiss team in both the '06 (Torino) and '10 (Vancouver) Winter Olympics.

Prior to his return to the NHL in 2005-06 with the Montreal Canadiens, Streit wore the captain's "C" while with the ZSC Lions Zurich (Swiss League), where he also revived his career, earning him a contract to play for the Habs.

Mark Streit also happens to be one hell of a hockey player at both ends of the ice and he leads by example, there's no question about it.

He was my choice from the very beginning, and I'm happy the Islanders felt that way too.

With just two years remaining on his contract with Isles, there'll be no shortage of speculation on who's next in line. Maybe Kyle Okposo or John Tavares will get the honors, or perhaps a less likely candidate such as Frans Nielsen or even Travis Hamonic. For now, the focus should be on the Swiss defender.

By naming Streit the captain, New York now has the flexibility to watch and observe those young players and identify the one who truly distinguished himself as a natural leader. Within two years' time, the Islanders will have their answer.

Streit becomes the 13th captain in franchise history, and while there certainly have been a few poor choices (see Bryan McCabe, Alexei Yashin), most of them have turned out okay, or in some cases, superb (see Ed Westfall, Denis Potvin, Kenny Jonsson, Michael Peca).

The first Swiss player to captain an NHL team was easily the smartest pick for that team, and the New York Islanders will reap the rewards of their decision soon enough.


I should also mention that there's a new proposal to renovate the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum using private funds. I'll reserve my comments until Charles Wang shares his, because until or unless he says anything, there's nothing to discuss.

Comments are welcome.