Mark Streit was the Islanders' captain for only two seasons, but he wore the "C'' during a time of improvement and transition for the team. And after Streit decided to leave for the greener pastures of free agency, where he earned a four-year, $21-million deal from the division rival Flyers, he may be best remembered as the last captain before John Tavares.
"I think it's time for him, and I think it's well-deserved," Streit told Newsday from his new home in downtown Philadelphia. "It's a big honor, as I found out, but even though he's still very young, it was 100 percent clear he was going to get it."
Tavares made sure to thank the two captains who preceded him at Monday's news conference: Doug Weight, still a mentor as an assistant coach, and Streit, who became a close friend and to whom Tavares turned during the lockout last season, when the two played together for Streit's hometown team in Bern, Switzerland.
Streit sought to stay with the Islanders during last season, looking for a three-year deal worth just under $15 million. The Islanders preferred a two-year deal, so it was clear as the season ended that the 35-year-old would be moving on, given the weak market for scoring defensemen. Garth Snow traded Streit's negotiating rights to the Flyers for a 2014 fourth-round pick on June 12.
"There's no hard feelings," Streit said. "When the trade happened, Garth and I had a good talk. I really had a great time in my five years there, I enjoyed the fans, the organization -- we had some rough times at first, but the Islanders gave me a place to play, they made me captain. I'll always be grateful for that."
Now he's with the Flyers, who have been a thorn in the Islanders' side for years. Streit makes his return to Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 26.
"We go in there early, and I'm looking forward to it," Streit said. "This [Metropolitan] division will be tough for everyone to make the playoffs, so it will be a battle with the Islanders, the Rangers, everyone. It will be different for sure."