Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Saturday was an emotional night for Philadelphia Flyers’ defenseman and former New York Islander captain Mark Streit. The 35-year-old Swiss defenseman, who spent four seasons on Long Island, returned for the first time since being traded in June to Philadelphia.
During his time as an Islander, Streit played in 286 games and recorded 179 points in that span. He appeared in the 2009 NHL All-Star Game as a member of the Isles and was the team’s captain for the final two seasons.
“They did a lot. They gave me the opportunity to play as a full time defenseman,” Streit said about his time on Long Island.”I made the all-star team, I was captain for two years. I mean that’s an unbelievable achievement. And we made the playoffs in the last year, so a lot of great memories.”
Down the hall in the home locker room, Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey spoke highly of Streit. Both wished him luck going forward.
“Well he’s an awesome guy,” Bailey said. “We miss him as a person. I think I was lucky to play with him for a few years. Obviously a great player, a great leader… wish him nothing but the best, minus the five games we play against him.”
Nielsen said Streit was one of his “closest friends” on the Islanders and that losing him was a big loss.
“He was the captain. He was one of the big leaders in this room,” he said. “I mean of course he was a big loss for us, but I think we had guys that stepped up and took his role on the ice and in the locker room. We’re moving on, but he was a great friend to everyone in here.”
Streit was the first Islander captain since Alexei Yashin to get his team to the post-season, but the team couldn’t work out a deal and they traded Streit before he hit the free agent market.
“After the trading deadline until the end of the season there wasn’t that much talk,” Streit said. “You couldn’t find a solution and then I think once I packed up here I realized that probably my time here has come to an end. And it was time to move on.”
Saturday night Streit had two assists as his Flyers defeated the Islanders 5-2. It was a successful way to complete a visit to a building that holds a special place in his heart.
“It’s a special building. It’s an older building here,” he said. “There is a lot of history and even when I played for Montreal I always liked coming to the Coliseum to play. I don’t know why.”