Islanders captain Anders Lee is here to stay. (Photo: Getty Images)
Anders Lee isn't the flashiest hockey player, nor is he the fastest or most skilled.
But he might be the most loyal and loved.
Even on a day where his team, the New York Islanders, lost out on the top free-agent prize in Artemi Panarin, Lee further cemented himself as a fan favorite on Monday.
The Islanders captain, who became an unrestricted free agent on Jul. 1, signed a seven-year, $49 million deal to remain in Brooklyn and on Long Island.
It was the end of a dizzying offseason that saw the Islanders seemingly write off their captain. In reality, it was just the latest example of how the Islanders' captain epitomizes the word loyalty.
President and general manager Lou Lamoriello opted to sign Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle in May and June while struggling to secure Lee.
Initial reports noted that the two sides could not agree on the length of the deal before they looked abandoned the closer things got to Jul. 1. Especially when the Islanders emerged as the favorites to land Panarin.
Signing Panarin to an expected $12.5 million contract was not going to leave enough room to bring back Lee. At least, that's what we were led to believe.
As the clock inched closer to noon on Monday to commence the free-agency period, however, the Islanders' hopes of landing Panarin evaporated. The Russian star instead opted to take less money and join the crosstown-rival Rangers.
Suddenly, the Islanders were faced with the possibility of another disastrous Jul. 1. Goalie Robin Lehner was on his way out of town — he joined the Blackhawks — while Lee was being linked to the likes of the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago.
It turns out, however, that Lee was never really leaving.
Per Brett Cyrgalis
of the New York Post, Lee and the Islanders agreed on a $7 million-per-year average annual salary back in training camp last year. That number didn't change, allowing the Islanders to make a push for Panarin or another big-name goal scorer.
Once the Islanders offered seven years, Lee was here to stay.
The soon-to-be 29-year-old opted not to use any words to reveal that he was staying with the Islanders. Instead, he posted the iconic clip from The Wolf of Wall Street where Leonardo DiCaprio — in a profanity-laced tirade — so creatively assures his employees that "I'm not f***ing leaving."
His agent, Neil Sheehy, further confirmed Lee's desire to stay with the Islanders in a post on Twitter:
"There was NEVER a moment on this FA Day where it was even a possibility that Anders Lee was going to leave the Islanders no matter what else happened. This type of “FAKE NEWS” fries my bananas! Anders Lee said the most important quality in a teammate is “LOYALTY” and he meant it."
Needless to say, there was a faction of Islanders fans ready to run through a brick wall for their captain.
For a younger generation of Islanders fans, this is how a true captain acts. Forget how that last one did things.
Lee doesn't just say the right things like John Tavares did, he follows up on them and acts accordingly. His love for the organization radiates from his being where it's clear he's willing to do anything to win in New York, specifically with the Islanders.
He's not going to fill up highlight reels. He's might never get back to that 40-goal mark from a couple of years ago. But Anders Lee is coming to his own as the captain of the New York Islanders.
And he's here to stay for the long haul.