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The New York Islanders officially named Doug Weight as their new head coach on Wednesday, after he led the team to a 24-12-4 record and kept the Islanders near the playoff bubble.
He replaced Jack Capuano with 40 games left in the season, a.k.a. “too late.”
From Weight’s first game on January 19 to the end of the season, the Islanders posted the second-best record in the NHL with 24 wins and 52 points. Not bad!
“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,” said GM (for life) Garth Snow. “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.”
The underlying narrative here is that Weight wasn’t just successful in the interim for the Islanders – he was also star captain John Tavares’s guy.
“I think you saw what he brought to the team and really sparked the great finish we had to the season and gave us a great opportunity to make it,” Tavares told Newsday. “I think he did a great job of handling the group and there’s a lot of respect for Dougie. He was great for me as well, challenged me and tried to put me in a position to succeed individually. So yeah, I thought he did a great job.”
Every personnel decision the Islanders make is going to be viewed through the “does this make JT happy?” prism until he signs a new contract, before going unrestricted in Summer 2018.
Again, all signs point to that happening, as Tavares has made it clear he wants to be there leading the Islanders when they finally become championship contenders again. But this is a franchise that always seems to have several levels of uncertainty to it, from on the ice to where they’re actually going to be playing in a few years.
Keeping Weight behind the bench gets rid of at least one of those layers…
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