When it comes to the captaincy, what do the Islanders require?
A cornerstone player who’ll be here for a while?
Or the best leader available to get them through this season?
If Garth Snow and Scott Gordon want a mainstay, Mark Streit should be the captain. He is 31 years old, the team’s best player, a strong leader…and signed for four more seasons. After the “C” has been passed around over the last 15 years, it would be a joy to have someone like Streit bring stability to the position. Four months ago, I nominated Streit for the position.
Since then, after watching another offseason of players changing teams across the league, I realized the notion of a long-term captain might be old-fashioned and unrealistic. Steve Yzermans are certainly more the exception than the norm over the last decade, and with free agency at 26 his kind could be an endangered species – franchise future icons like Sidney Crosby notwithstanding.
The Islanders of 2010-11 will be a different crew with loftier expectations than this year’s model. When deciding on a captain, you can make the case the Islanders should only think about one year at a time.
If the Islanders just want a captain for this season, then Doug Weight is the top candidate – edging out Streit and Brendan Witt.
I approached Weight the other day on this subject. Part of what makes him a good captain – and top broadcasting prospect, if he wants it someday - is his ability to break down a situation. Our ground rules were simple: Weight was not campaigning for the Islanders captaincy and I was not giving him his job interview.
Doug spoke and I took notes:
“For starters, the captaincy is an important responsibility. That should be clear. Some people in the game minimize the role. I do not. I know the C is not anything the players take lightly.
“A strong room is a strong room. It’s not all on the captain, but of course he’s a key component. In Edmonton, I was proud to be the captain. I enjoyed overseeing the team events and working to bring everyone closer. It’s a challenge sometimes, but I loved it.
“I don’t know what Scott and Garth have in mind. If they ask me to be captain, I’ll be very proud of the honor and I’ll take the responsibility seriously. I’ve told you this before: I’m not here to float into my late 30s. Captain or not, I’m going to contribute on the ice and lead. Who knows? Maybe I’m here for just this season, but I feel I have plenty of good play left. No matter what Garth and Scott decide to do with the letters, there are plenty of leaders on this team.”
No matter who they pick, it is premature – and completely unnecessary – to rush letters on youngsters that haven’t even enjoyed breakout seasons yet. There will be plenty of time for Kyle Okposo and the others, if they earn it on the ice first. The Islanders would be kidding themselves if they give a letter to a young player in a PR nod to their rebuilding program.
No one knows the personalities inside the Islanders’ locker room better than the players themselves. Since they will most likely not preside over a team vote, Snow and Gordon will make the choice. If the GM and coach have the slightest bit concern whether Streit should be captain this year, they should give the C to Weight and As to Streit and Witt or a younger veteran such as Trent Hunter. In a year, they can decide again on Streit or if someone else is better equipped to assume the mantle.
If the brass believes Streit is the most qualified, he should be Islanders captain for the next few years. In Weight, he’ll have the perfect sounding board. “If I’m not the captain,” Weight said, “it’s not like I’m going to change. I’ll do whatever I can to assist my teammate who gets it.”
Discuss the captaincy here, and enjoy the game.