ZURICH – New York Islanders defenceman Mark Streit will be released to play on home ice for Switzerland at the 2009 IIHF World Championship after the Islanders missed playoffs.
With Streit, host Switzerland will have the most successful Swiss skater in the NHL on its roster. Streit was the first Swiss to play in the NHL All-Star Game and is nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Streit is one of the top paid sportsmen from Switzerland with a five-year, $20.5m contract.
His appearance was in jeopardy when he was sidelined with a groin injury until last week but the blueliner was ready in time and played the remaining Islanders game.
Streit, 31, joined the Islanders last year after two seasons with the Montreal Canadiens and was the team’s scoring leader with 56 points (16+40) in 74 games. He also ranks seventh in defencemen scoring, sixth in defencemen goal scoring, and ninth in time on ice per game (25:13 minutes).
Before 2005, he spent his career – apart from one AHL season – in Switzerland. He played for Fribourg-Gottéron, HC Davos and the ZSC Lions Zurich. Streit will travel to Switzerland this week and will join the team camp on April 20.
Switzerland will play the World Championship Preliminary Round in Berne, and in the home arena of SC Bern, where Streit played his junior career.
Streit debuted in the 1998 World Championship in Switzerland (Zurich and Basle) and only missed last year’s tournament, giving him ten World Championship appearances and two Olympic showings.