Just like that, we may have seen the last of Doug Weight as an NHLer.
He describes himself as still having "the fire" and desire to play in 20010-11 -- which is why he's finally having the shoulder operated on -- but at age 39 and with intensive rehab ahead, that's anyone's guess. Still, cheers to the man for playing through a torn rotator cuff and torn labrum in his left shoulder, serving as an example to this youth-laden team. He's done everything asked as a veteran leader, and there's a reason so many teammates like him.
The Islanders powerplay has been very disappointing, but I maintain it always looked better with Weight on it than without. His creativity and the respect he commanded at the point from opposing checkers created needed space.
But as he told Katie Strang:
"It's not the type of hockey I wanted to play. I couldn't finish a check, I couldn't take a check, I couldn't handle the puck ... shoot with velocity I was used to ... I was spending 80% of my shift positioning myself so I didn't blow my shoulder out."
Still, once again with injury comes opportunity. Weight as the point man opposite Mark Streit is not the long-term solution. It's time for someone to step up and take the reins.
Meanwhile, Weight's departure opens the way for another Jeff Tambellini sighting.
Here Be Devils, They Be Good
The Devils top four scorers each have at least 16 more points than Islanders leader Kyle Okposo's 42, and it would be five of 'em if Patrik Elias had played a full season. ... Ilya Kovalchuk is at the top of their board, and he has 4 goals, 7 assists in 11 games with the Devils. Just one of those goals was on the PP, so there's more to come from the Thrasher escapee.
The Devils, in some kind of funk that encompassed both sides of the Olympic break, just won two games in a row for the first time since Jan. 12. There was lots of vague talk of "off-ice" issues being just as key as on-ice ones, which forced a reset team meeting that may have righted the ship. Damn.
A remnant hope for the Islanders is that after an intense win over the Penguins last night, the Devils come out flat. They've certainly done that at the Coliseum a time or two, including Rick DiPietro's 20-save shutout this year, where the Devils were sleepwalking and Martin Brodeur was rehearsing his lines for the Olympic tilt with Team USA.
A Bit Thin at Center, No?
So in Weight's damaged state he tended to play just on the bottom-six at wing as well as his point time on the powerplay. But he could still man the pivot when needed, and now with the loss of him and Rob Schremp within the same week, the Islanders' center depth looks like this: John Tavares, Frans Nielsen, Richard Park. This would seem to beg for a move -- even if it's sliding Josh Bailey back from the wing.
It's funny how we can enter a season wondering where all the centers are going to play -- even guessing Tavares might start his career on the wing -- and land in March with a totally different picture. The game versus the Blues had enough special teams time to roll a hybrid of three-plus lines, but that's not a sustainable answer. Worse? There is no obvious solution here or in Bridgeport.
Speaking of centers, and veterans, here's Richard Park in the Post, on the locker room standings board reminding the players of what has eluded them:
"It's definitely a challenge, to see the light at the end of the tunnel this year," Park said. "Unless you're completely oblivious, you know there'd have to be somewhat of a miracle for us to go anywhere, but I don't think you can compare this season to last year."
Atlanta has bumped Tampa Bay out of the bottom seven, while Columbus and Carolina have been acting like they just don't want Hall/Seguin, now do they? Edmonton has won this one going away, it's not even a fair fight. A win tonight doesn't change the Isles' standing, but two wins this weekend could. A win is a win, but during Lottery Watch Season a win can be earth-shaking.
Prediction: I still miss Rob Schremp Hockey.