Doug Weight only came to the final decision to take the Islanders head-coaching job on permanent basis during the two days after the team’s season came to an end.
After talking with friends, family and members of the organization he came to the decision to remain on as head coach. The announcement was made Wednesday morning that Weight would officially be named the Islanders’ head coach.
“Really by the time we went to our wrap-up dinner last night I was feeling good about it and as were they,” Weight said during a conference call with reporters. “That was exciting to me. I would say in the last 48 hours nothing really changed in my mind, I was just really sure… I’m really excited.”
Weight takes over the job on a permanent basis after helping to lead the Islanders to 24-12-4 record after taking over for Jack Capuano on January 17. The Islanders were in last place in the Eastern Conference at the time, but Weight got the Islanders into the playoff picture and the team only missed out on the postseason by one point in the standings.
As the second half of the season went on general manager Garth Snow hopped that Weight would be willing to remain on as head coach after the year was done.
“I was thinking the last month of the season and just hoping, and my fingers crossed,” Snow said. “This is a big commitment. Doug has a family, a lot of moving parts going on in his life away from hockey. I know the stars had to align for him personally for him to accept this responsibility. I was happy that Doug and his family have that comfort level.”
It was Weight’s candor with the media and his straightforward approach with the players he coached that helped him win over support and help get the Islanders back on track after a dismal start. Weight, a member of the US Hockey Hall of Fame, immediately garnered respect due to his distinguished NHL career, several players have said over the course of the season.
It was something Snow point out, as well as his history in the front office with the organization.
“I think Doug had the respect of the players from an outstanding playing career,” Snow said. “The role and responsibility he had, after he retired, as assistant GM and assistant coach really had a hand in acquiring all these players… I think there was definitely a comfort level from the players with Doug.”
While Weight remains, the staff around him is likely to change. The now full-time Islanders coach called it a “probability” that there would changes or additions to his coaching staff.
Weight was unsure just how many changes would be coming, but he knows there need to be improvements in several areas.
“I want good people that want to work,” Weight said. “That have a passion to win, that have respect and knowledge. You want everything that’s good around your team and good family people, but most importantly it has to fit into our team in what we need as a staff and be cohesive. To be trust worthy and respected.
“I’ll get on that right away.”