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Islanders captain recaptures past football glory at Stadium Series practice

NHL: New York Islanders at Montreal Canadiens
Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – One thing was very obvious when the New York Islanders practiced outdoors here at MetLIfe Stadium on Thursday ahead of their Stadium Series clash against the New York Rangers this weekend. 

Anders Lee can still throw the rock.

Before the Islanders skated at the shared home of the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants, their captain put on a show tossing a football. The former stud high school quarterback wowed teammates with a massive throw from the field up into the stands before they suited up for practice.

“We were seeing how far Anders could throw the football. He’s got a gun on him obviously. He was quite the football player prior to this,” Islanders forward Matt Martin explained. “We were seeing if he could make it to the second deck and he just came up a little short. He said he threw a little bit of a duck, so he might try it again. We don’t even know how far that is … it was a pretty long way. He’s got an arm on him for sure.”

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Anders Lee was star high school quarterback before NHL star with Islanders

Photo Credit: Jim Cerny/Sportsnaut

Lee was the 2008 Minnesota Gatorade player of the year and Metro player of the year, when he tossed 32 touchdowns and averaged 319 yards total offense per game. He was also a two-time all-conference and all-state player at Edina High School.

Harvard University offered Lee the opportunity to play both hockey and football in college. But the power forward decided to play hockey at Notre Dame. Now, in his 12th season with the Islanders, Lee has scored 253 goals in the NHL.

But football is never far from his mind, or his right hand.

“It’s fun. We always have [a football] in the bag,” Lee said Thursday. “Guys are chucking it around pregame wherever we are on the road, if we get the opportunity. So, we brought it out here again today and it’s a pretty special building to throw it in.”

Of course, when the Islanders return to MetLife Stadium for a Sunday afternoon matinee against the Rangers, it’ll be all business for Lee and the Islanders. They’ve lost two in a row (0-1-1) and are three points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Today gave us the opportunity to process everything, understand the significance of the event,” Lee said. “But at the same time, it’s a big game for us.”

The Islanders-Rangers game is one of two outdoor NHL games taking place in this building. The New Jersey Devils will play the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.

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