The Weight now falls on Doug’s shoulders (did you really think I would not make this joke?).
Wednesday morning, the New York Islanders announced that Doug Weight has been named the 19th Head Coach in franchise history. Weight will continue in his role as Assistant General Manager, a position that he held before being named Interim Head Coach. He was also previously an Assistant Coach to Jack Capuano.
As the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are set to begin Wednesday, the Isles find themselves preparing for the offseason as they fell one point short of postseason action. But missing the playoffs for the first time in three years does not paint the whole picture. After Jack Capuano was fired in January 2017 and Weight took over as Interim Head Coach, Weight posted a record of 24-12-4. Furthermore, since the firing of Jack Capuano, the Islanders earned the second most points league-wide (52), behind only the Washington Capitals who won the President’s Trophy for most points in the regular season. Isles also recorded the most hits and fourth-most goals scored during the second half of the season (120).
“Doug has earned this opportunity from the tremendous work he has put in over the past five seasons in our front office and especially from the time he took over as interim Head Coach earlier this season,” President and General Manager Garth Snow said. “His leadership and experiences from both playing and behind the bench are valuable intangibles that not every coach can translate into a winning formula. He’s gained the trust and respect from our entire team, making him the best choice to become Head Coach.”
“I’m honored to be named Head Coach of such an historic franchise with one of the most passionate fan-bases in the NHL ,” Weight said. “There is a deep history of winning with the Islanders and I look forward to doing everything in my power to return to the playoffs and have success.”
While the future of the management of the Isles hung in the balance yesterday as players and staff conducted break-up day interviews, today we know the Doug Weight has been given a vote of confidence by the organization. And rightfully so. While the players were sad to see Jack Capuano relieved of his duties, the level of respect for Weight was instrumental in Weight leading the Islanders to a much better second half of the season. Captain John Tavares concurs. As a former captain himself (12th in franchise history), Weight played a significant role in helping JT transition from junior hockey to the NHL. Now, as Tavares has held the role of Captain since the 2013-14 season, and Weight now Head Coach, the interaction between the two may have logistically changed, but the relationship is largely the same; Weight will still be tasked with helping bring out the best in Tavares – hockey on the ice and leadership off.
Despite the availability, so to speak, of a couple of coaches without jobs, this is without a doubt a good move for the Islanders. In the last couple of days, the Los Angeles Kings let go of Darryl Sutter who led the Kings to two Stanley Cups in three years (2012 and 2014). Additionally, the Dallas Stars relieved Lindy Ruff of his duties behind the bench. Wednesday it was also announced that Ken Hitchcock will forego retirement and return to the Dallas Stars as Head Coach. Hitchcock coached the Stars from 1996 to 2002, winning a Stanley Cup in 1999. Hitchcock was let go this season by the St. Louis Blues and replaced by Mike Yeo.
Locking up Weight this quickly shows how much the Islanders organization believes in Weight’s abilities to lead the squad back to the playoffs and start seriously competing for the Stanley Cup again. But most importantly, the announcement now forbids other organizations from even asking the Islanders to speak to Weight in an effort to try to convince him to go elsewhere. Seeing the tremendous job he did in the second half of the season likely enticed other teams to give Weight a look. But now, that is moot. While Garth Snow’s job is still somewhat uncertain, the Islanders have a lot of work to do to prepare for next season. As far as Snow is concerned, the 2017-18 season is already underway.