NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Well, that didn’t take long.
Despite missing the playoffs this season, the Islanders rewarded Doug Weight on Wednesday, removing the “interim” label and naming him full-time head coach. The move ends all kinds of speculation about who the coach would be heading into the 2017-18 season.
“I’m honored to be named head coach of such an historic franchise with one of the most passionate fan bases,” Weight said in a statement. “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.”
Terms of his contract with the club were not immediately known. Weight will also remain the team’s assistant general manager. The decision to pursue the head coaching job was a process, Weight said, as it had been reported that he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do beyond this season.
“I gained momentum as I felt our team did,” he said. “I felt confident and I’m proud that I prepared for four years and learned from a lot of people. I had a good feeling coming out of the year and talked about it a lot with friends and family. I’m really excited.”
Under Weight, who took over after Jack Capuano was fired Jan. 17, the Islanders posted the second-best record in the NHL, going 24-12-4 for 52 points. Though they ultimately missed the postseason by one point, the Isles showed a lot of heart battling back into contention after a horrendous start that saw them win just six of their first 20 games.
“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,” team 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.”
Weight, who becomes the 19th head coach in Islanders history, was given high praise for his X’s and O’s prowess, something many thought he didn’t possess, despite being a former 1,000-point player and Stanley Cup champion. He played an integral role in the development of three key young players — forwards Anders Lee, Josh Ho-Sang and Anthony Beauvillier, who all figure to be roster mainstays going forward.
As a player, Weight was a four-time All-Star and was named the 12th captain in Islanders history on Oct. 2, 2009. Originally selected by the Rangers in the second round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, Weight amassed 278 goals and 755 assists in a career that also included stints with the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes, and Anaheim Ducks.
Weight was inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.
The offseason will be telling for the Islanders, who disappointed many in 2016-17. Coming off back-to-back 100-point seasons, including their first playoff series win since 1993 last season, they were plagued by personnel problems and managerial decisions that many believe should lead to a front office shakeup. However, short of perhaps bringing in an executive to oversee hockey operations, something that is reportedly still being discussed, it appears that Snow’s job is safe.
“You can only control what you can control as a player, coach, manager,” Snow said. “You put your head down and do your job. When you have success, everything’s great. When the team loses, there’s bullets and arrows flying.”
The Isles hope to sign superstar center John Tavares to a contract extension this summer and are expected to make several moves in order to improve the team and prepare for the upcoming expansion draft.
“Our team is very close,” Weight said. “I love our camaraderie. Great teams that achieve are very close and trust and respect each other. We have that.”