The New York Islanders held a media call with coach Doug Weight and general manager Garth Snow Wednesday morning after officially announcing that Weight would be the head coach, interim tag removed.
Some highlights from what they said follow...
Weight Likes the Team, Likes the Coaching Gig
"I had a good feeling coming out of the year and talked about it a lot with friends and family,” Weight said. “I'm really excited.”
Part of that feeling, presumably, is the vibe in the room, where Weight led the Isles to the second-best record in the second half of the season.
“Our team is very close. I love our camaraderie. Great teams that achieve are very close, and trust respect each other. We have that.”
Certainly the players were behind him, something you can’t say for other older and available coaches like Ken Hitchcock and Darryl Sutter. And as he said, he’s been preparing for this for four years, and had an up-close view to identify where his predecessor Jack Capuano — also known as “a player’s coach” — fell short.
It surely doesn’t hurt that he has the support and long-term respect from captain John Tavares.
He’ll Add to the Staff
“I gained momentum as I felt our team did,” Weight said about the season’s second half under him. “I felt confident, and I’m proud that I prepared for four years and learned from a lot of people."
Weight retains the dual-role of also being assistant general manager. It’s unclear which assistant coaches will be back, but it is clear there will be at least one new assistant, maybe more. (“whether it’s one, two, five...”)
This pleases me greatly. Do five. https://t.co/CeujvzBlO1— Rookie Example (@KeithLHHockey) April 12, 2017
Weight, Snow Met with Ownership
All season long, word was owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin were soliciting advice around the league and canvasing names for someone to join hockey operations. Most often the speculation was for someone in a senior role above Garth Snow.
It’s not clear whether their thinking has evolved — and if so, if it’s because others don’t want to come in where the GM and coach are already entrenched — but it sure sounds like Weight and Snow have the support of ownership.
Weight said it was important to meet with Malkin/Ledecky face to face to make sure everyone on same page before deal was signed.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) April 12, 2017
Doug Weight said he feels secure about the status of #Isles' front office.— Brett Cyrgalis (@BrettCyrgalis) April 12, 2017
Snow says #Isles want to sign Tavares long term (duh), Weight was his first choice to be HC and that his relationship with owners is good.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) April 12, 2017
Snow also had his usual “anything to improve the hockey club” lines, noting that he can’t control whether ownership wants to bring in more, but that he’s always open to front office additions that will help the team win, etc.
On the one hand, Weight’s record (24-12-4) in half a season -- which is enough of a sample to give hope, but also a small enough sample that has deceived many teams in the past to think they’re better than they really are — shows promise. If, and it’s a big if, he can get that kind of performance out of the team for a full season, then a return to the playoffs can be expected.
On the other hand, baffling decisions like the goaltending situation, the reluctance to bring up Ryan Pulock while the power play struggled, and last summer’s free agent navigation are all marks against this management team, adding to a history of self-inflicted wounds. Weight, as assistant GM, has been an integral piece of that management.
Meanwhile, simply returning to the playoffs is by no means enough — not for the fans, not for captain John Tavares, and implicitly not for Snow and Weight. But can they learn from missteps and not only hold serve, but actually significantly improve the team?
We’ll see if the owners are able to add another voice or decision maker who can finesse improvement with the existing management team. But a few days after the season ended, it sure looks like this is Garth Snow and Doug Weight’s team.
2 things to take away: Weight could have two new assistants; Snow said he's open to fresh faces in front office who can help #Isles win.— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) April 12, 2017
And another Thing: Belmont Dreams
Oh, meanwhile: Hockey insider Bob McKenzie was tweeting this morning about expecting more news or clarity on the endless arena saga for the team, saying “nothing official but things are trending” in the direction of Belmont.
The games are done, but it’s never slow in Islanders Country.