- Associated Press - Thursday, September 22, 2011

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - Mark Streit was all smiles as he pulled on his new Islanders’ sweater with the ‘C’ freshly sewn on the chest.

After a lost year in which he was kept off the ice because of a preseason shoulder injury and was forced to watch another non-playoff performance by the Islanders, the 33-year-old defenseman was proud to become the once-storied franchise’s 13th captain.

Streit took over the role Wednesday, replacing the retired Doug Weight and echoing the team’s repeated mantra that the club is ready to win and shake the label of losers. New York has missed the playoffs four straight years, five of six, and has finished last in the Atlantic Division in four consecutive seasons.

“I am blessed and honored, and I’ll do everything possible to win the games,” Streit said. “I was hoping to be captain because I thought I could do a good job, but I didn’t expect it. I had a rough year. It was tough to watch, but during the year you realized how good this team is. There is so many great players. I feel we have a wonderful mix of players. There’s young, skilled players with a lot of talent and there is some veteran guys. We have a great chemistry.”

Streit is entering his fourth season with New York and is now the first NHL captain from Switzerland. He is taking over for Weight, who retired in May to become an Islanders assistant coach and senior adviser to general manager Garth Snow. He officially accepted the job after practice on Wednesday.

“He just shook my hand on the ice and congratulated me,” Streit said of Weight. “I had the opportunity to learn from him in the past. You learn from older players. It’s a great thing having him on the coaching staff.

“Leadership is not only one guy, it’s all the guys.”

In his first two seasons on the ice with the Islanders, Streit served as an assistant captain and led the team in ice time. He was the club’s leading scorer in the 2008-09 season and third the following year.

Now healthy, he should provide a big boost in all facets of the game for coach Jack Capuano, who is entering his first full season behind the bench. Capuano replaced the fired Scott Gordon on Nov. 15 and went 26-29-10 the rest of the way _ including a 25-21-8 mark over the final 54 games.

Capuano now can reap the benefits of having Streit on the ice, and he was a key voice in picking him to be the new captain.

“You’ve got somebody that does things the right way, you’ve got somebody that has the respect of the coaches, his teammates and the organization,” Capuano said. “There is not one thing about Mark that we feel is going to lead our team, but numerous things.

“I know the way that Mark lives his life and I know what he brings to us on the ice, as well. I have the utmost respect that when discipline needs to take place and when we as coaches leave that locker room that we know Mark is going to be there. We’ve got some good leaders on our hockey team. I know Mark is going to do a fantastic job.”

Streit was one of the earliest pieces in the Islanders’ rebuilding plan when he signed a four-year, $20.5 million free-agent deal with New York in 2008 after three seasons with Montreal.

He has served as captain for the Swiss national team at the Olympics and the hockey world championships. In 361 NHL games, Streit has 52 goals and 162 assists.

“You lead by example,” Streit said. “I try to work as hard as possible every day, on and off the ice. I am probably the worst loser in the world. I hate losing. I just want to win games.”