RALEIGH, N.C. — Anders Lee hadn’t had time to call any friends or family when he was handed a cell phone in the dressing room at PNC Arena. Hall of Famer Denis Potvin was on the line, one former Islanders captain congratulating the newest one.
The Islanders named the 28-year-old left wing the 15th captain in team history before Thursday night’s season opener against the Hurricanes. Forwards Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck and Andrew Ladd were selected as the alternate captains.
“These are the things you grow up kind of dreaming about,” said Lee, who was informed by coach Barry Trotz during a pregame meeting. “I’ve always gone out there just to be who I am, work hard, be a good teammate, keep it light.”
The Islanders, though, are in danger of having two straight captains depart after John Tavares left via free agency for the Maple Leafs. Lee is in the final season of a four-year, $15-million deal but said the Isles’ commitment to him was significant.
“Yeah, this means a lot to me to have that commitment,” he said. “That’s been reciprocated from my end since I got drafted here. It’s a special place to me. I take pride in putting this jersey on and I look forward to where this all goes.”
Trotz, who indicated throughout training camp that he might not name a captain, said it became clear that Lee was the correct choice through his conversations with players and observing the team through the preseason.
De Haan’s Carolina debut
Former Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan, 27, made his debut for the Hurricanes after signing a four-year, $18.2-million deal as a free agent. He said he wasn’t necessarily looking to leave and that the Islanders were among the handful of teams he considered.
“You’ve got to try and cash in when you can,” said de Haan, limited to 33 games last season because of a shoulder injury. “The whole situation coming here, new coach, new everything, new city, it was something I really wanted to try to take advantage of. It was nothing against the Islanders. At the end of the day, it was just a personal decision I had to make.”