Nineteen seasons later, a Sanley Cup ring, an Olympic Silver, two captaincies, multiple times as alternate captain, multiple All-Star appearances, three time Olympian plus two World Cups and three World Championships, 1238 NHL games, 1033 points: there's not much Doug Weight hasn't done on the ice. This was probably going to be his last season, a way for the Captain to go out on his own terms.
Last season wasn't pretty. Struggling through a shoulder injury that needed extensive surgery, he barely scored a goal in 36 games before going on IR for the rest of the season. Feeling better then he had in years this preseason, Weight came out the gate flying. Three points on opening night and eight points in the first nine games. Unfortunately he only managed one point in the next nine games before being put on IR with back spasms. His last game was Nov. 17, Jack Capuano's first as coach.
For those who might question the value of Weight to the Islanders this year, his injury coincided with the collapse of the Islanders power play, extending a four-game slump to a 12-game streak without a PPG. With the Islanders unable to score during even strength, the collapse of the PP unit only added to the team wide misery. The cherry on top of the Misery cake is the loss of Weight's locker room leadership, which was already diminished due to losing alternates Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit.
It's time for Weight to hang up the skates though. He has yet to play a complete season with the Islanders and the longer he takes to return the more it looks like he will once again finish with less then half a season played. Though he's skated recently, he's still listed as out "out indefinitely," and his cameo coaching the Isles PP (story here) makes it appear his playing career is all but over.
There is a certain irony to Weight retiring as an Islander. There will be those stories about how sad it is that a great player had to play out the twilight of his career with a horrible team. But in a way Weight is finishing where he started. It was so long ago that people tend to forget that Doug Weight was originally a Ranger. In the midst of the 1993 Rangers strong season, Mark Messier threw around his clout and got buddy Esa Tikkanen on the team. The price for the Rangers? Just the 40 points in 65 games during Weight's second season.
While Tikkanen had a hand in the Rangers run to the Stanley Cup the following year with a 54 point regular season, Weight blew the doors off the barn in Edmonton with a 74 point season. Tikkanen was traded following the Cup win, while Weight was the backbone of the '90s Oilers. Although they didn't win a championship, those Oilers were the type of team you never wanted to play in the first round.
At this point Doug Weight has had a long and memorable career. There's nothing you can take away from him. But the truth of the matter is there's probably no room on the Islanders for him now, barring yet more injuries. Unless the Islanders shift course and start going with just six defensemen (not likely, but...), the only other spot for him is replacing Trevor Gillies. If you can't make the Islanders when you're healthy, how much use will a contender have for you?
Weight's legacy on the Island will always be a good one. Hopefully in the next few years when the Islanders start winning we'll hear guys like Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and others pointing out (again) that their time around Weight helped them in the long run. For someone who was a champion and a winner his whole career, he didn't play like someone who didn't want to be on Long Island.
Every night Weight gave it his all. But with each injury it was just painfully obvious that he was half a step behind, half a second slower then he used to be. The drive, the tenacity, the grit were all still there though. It's just unfortunate that the human body can only take so much of a beating. With his playing days so close to being over, Weight should be worried about living the rest of his life comfortably. There's not much more he can give this team, and no one should ever claim that he didn't leave everything on the ice.