Islanders name four Assistant Captains

Kyle Okposo, John Tavares, Brian Rolston and Steve Staios to share leadership role with Islanders Captain Mark Streit

Thursday, 10.6.2011 / 3:26 PM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
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Islanders name four Assistant Captains
 
After Thursday’s practice, the Islanders coaching staff held a half-hour meeting to name the team’s Assistant Captains for the 2011-12 season. The honor was bestowed upon Islanders young guns John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, as well as veteran leaders Brian Rolston and Steve Staios.

“It was pretty tough (decision),” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “There are other guys we know are going to lead. They don’t have to lead because they have a letter on their sweater… We just thought those (four) guys would fit in well with Mark (Streit),” who was named Islanders Captain on Sept. 21.

At this point, how the four Assistant Captains will share the role is unclear. Capuano said he’s leaning towards having a set pair for home games and a set pair on the road, though he’s undecided how they’ll split. Each pairing may showcase one of the younger players with a veteran.

Okposo is the lone returning A. He wore the letter on his sweater at the beginning of the 2009-10 season, but earning that responsibility for his third straight year was just as much an honor as the day he started wearing it.

John Tavares scores a first period goal against the Boston Bruins and is greeted by Frans Nielsen  in their game against the Boston Bruins at the Webster Bank Arena on October 1, 2011. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
“I’m excited about it,” Okposo said. “It’s definitely an honor to be singled out and called upon as a leader in this group, especially with so many veterans on this team.  All the guys who got them are excited.”

With just two days until Opening Night, Okposo added, “I’m ecstatic about the upcoming season. I’m healthy and Mark (Streit) is healthy. We are in pretty good spirits and just excited to get the season under way.”

Okposo wasn’t the only young player to receive the honor. Showing his dedication to the franchise by signing a six-year deal Sept. 15, 21-year-old Tavares was all smiles in the locker room just a few brief moments after being named.

“Entering my third year, it’s a new responsibility,” said Tavares, the 2009 first overall NHL Entry Draft selection. “I’m excited about (being named an alternate captain) and to have the trust from the coaches and players that way. It’s a huge honor and I’ll do the best I can to provide leadership and play hard every time I’m out there.”

The team’s top scorer in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Tavares’ work ethic is one to watch, admire and follow.

“I’ll mostly lead by my actions,” Tavares said. “I’ve already been a little more vocal than I was in my first year, just when I feel it’s necessary to speak up or talk to the guys and give my input. Not much is going to change, but I’ll definitely lead by example.”

With a combined 31 years in the league, veterans Rolston and Staios were made to lead. Though Rolston is the only player who has hoisted the Stanley Cup, they have tons of experience, including a combined 18 playoff series. Rolston came to the Islanders by way of a trade with the New Jersey Devils on Aug. 26.

“It is always an honor to wear a letter on your jersey,” Rolston said. “Our young guys are ready to go, ready to be leaders. Obviously, I have a lot of experience and I’m here to lend a hand when it’s needed and to lead by example.”

Steve Staios skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on September 30, 2011. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Staios came to Islanders Training Camp on a tryout basis and after a solid performance in preseason, he was awarded a one-year contract Sept. 30. Earning the A is one more positive to add to the 15-year NHL veteran’s action-packed month on Long Island.

“I feel humbled that I was named assistant captain,” Staios said. “Whether I was going to wear the A this year or not, it wouldn’t have made a difference with the way I approached the season. I was going to be a big part of this team from the beginning. It’s a big responsibility, but with my experience and the experience we have in our leadership group, I think it’s a good mix.”

Each player, if he’s wearing a letter or not, still gets Opening Night jitters.

“It’s one of my favorite nights of the year,” Tavares said. “It’s like Christmas for us. You get excited about the first game. You work so hard in the offseason to prepare and go through a lot of hard work through Training Camp, getting back into shape, getting our systems down and getting a routine back. It’s what we play for and it’s always so exciting at home and having a full building.”

Okposo said he has plans to watch both season openers tonight.

“I’ll watch both games on Versus and probably fall asleep during the second one, but it’s going to be fun,” Okposo said. “I’m going to get butterflies just watching them play. So when I play on Saturday night, it’s going to be something special.”

Staios said those feelings are natural and necessary.

It’s different every time, but if you don’t have those jitters and those feelings you probably shouldn’t be playing. I get them before preseason games too. It’s just my makeup. I love to compete and I’ll do everything I can do to contribute to this team. - Steve Staios
“It’s different every time, but if you don’t have those jitters and those feelings you probably shouldn’t be playing,” Staios said. “I get them before preseason games too. It’s just my makeup. I love to compete and I’ll do everything I can do to contribute to this team.”

Rolston shared that same mantra, adding, “They day you don’t have those jitters and the day you don’t want to succeed is the day you’re out of the league.”

So when the Islanders suit up for their first game of the 2011-12 season, they’ll all be pumped and ready to go. So grab your friends and Isles gear and pack the house, these guys feed off that energy.

Okposo said, “We want to get this barn rocking again and we are excited to do that.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
M. Neuvirth 1 3 1 .881 2.94

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