EAST MEADOW, N.Y — Anders Lee was buzzing on the ice during the first day of New York Islanders training camp on Long Island. Enough so that even star forward Mathew Barzal took note of it.
The two skated with one another for the first time since Lee went down with an ACL injury last March that sidelined him for a majority of the 2020-21 season. Now six months later the Islanders captain is back on the ice at 100 percent and ready to get back to work.
“It felt really good to be on the ice with the boys,” Lee said after the first training camp group left the ice. “Good day 1 of camp here. It’s one of those days where it’s an absolute workday. Good to be out here and get that under our belt… For me personally, it’s just continuing on my rehab and my progress here. It’s great to have camp to be able to do that. Just taking it day by day.”
🎥 Barzal & Lee Media Availability 🎥 pic.twitter.com/iffUr3UxJn
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 23, 2021
The Islanders aren’t placing any restrictions on Lee either. The captain fully participated with the first on-ice group Thursday morning at Northwell Health Ice Center.
Anders Lee skated with Mathew Barzal and Anatolii Golyshev during the practice.
“The restrictions are off, everything’s good,” Lee said. “Just making sure we take a look at everything and get ready for Game 1.”
The Islanders captain was a sight for sore eyes to many on Monday. The Islanders struggled to produce the same offensively during the year without his big net-front presence.
Head coach Barry Trotz used Leo Komarov to try and fill the gap, but the Islanders’ top line wasn’t as productive offensively as it had been with Lee in the lineup.
“It’s obviously just relieving having him back out there and seeing him buzz around,” Barzal said. “He looked faster, I would even say, than last year. He’s obviously in great shape. Looks great, shooting the puck well and looks right back to normal. It’s relieving to our group and our organization.”
Even without Anders Lee the Islanders managed to get the Stanley Cup Semifinals for the second year in a row last season. Lee was present around the team, even skating on occasion during the run, but lamented missing out on being on the ice.
“It was really hard to not be able to be on the ice with your team,” Anders Lee said. “It’s tough when you’re going through recovery at the same time. But the boys, we all took on that challenge and the way they played on the ice was extremely inspiring to me. We both fed off each other… it was a good run.”