Player 'comfort level,' success helped Doug Weight earn Islanders job

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NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 19: Doug Weight of the New York Islanders looks on from the bench during his first game as head coach against the Dallas Stars as John Tavares #91 waits to enter the game at the Barclays Center on January 19, 2017 in Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 19: Doug Weight of the New York Islanders looks on from the bench during his first game as head coach against the Dallas Stars as John Tavares #91 waits to enter the game at the Barclays Center on January 19, 2017 in Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Doug Weight was named interim head coach of the New York Islanders in January after Jack Capuano’s firing, he wasn’t sure if it was a job he wanted to keep long-term. He was going to take day-by-day, he said.

On Wednesday, three days after the Islanders fell short of the playoffs by a point, and 40 games into his head-coaching career, Weight was given the job full-time.

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When the Islanders held their final meeting with the media on Monday, there was overwhelming support from the players to bring Weight back. That response, and the way the team played after Capuano’s dismissal was a big factor in general manager Garth Snow’s decision.

“For me, Doug had the respect of the players from an outstanding playing career, the role and the responsibility he had after he retired as assistant GM and assistant coach,” Snow said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “[He] really had a hand in acquire all of these players, whether it was through the draft or having his hand in trades, free agent signings.

“I think there was definitely a comfort level from the players with Doug. Obviously, he put a tremendous amount of work into it and I think the respect that the players had for Doug as soon as he walks in the room he has command of the room. I think you see how the players competed for him, those are all positives attributes that Doug brought and brings to the table as head coach.”

After Weight took over on Jan. 17 as they sat dead last in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders recorded the second most-points in the NHL (52), only two behind the Washington Capitals. They were also tied for fourth in goals for (120) and showed improvement in both the power play (13.6 percent to 16.4 percent) and penalty kill (80 percent to 84.5 percent).

So yeah, the players responded.

“We 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 said on Monday. “A lot of guys responded individually as well. I think he did a great job at 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. I thought he did a great job.”

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Weight took Monday and Tuesday of this week to talk things over with his family, people in the Islanders organization and his former tenant and teammate, Tavares. He also met with team ownership so everyone could get on the same page moving forward as reports continue to circulate about the organization looking to hire someone to oversee hockey operations and their on-going arena saga.

Those conversations went well enough for Weight to commit himself.

“That’s why it was important to me to have two days of conversations of full disclosure with each other. I think it’s smart before you get into anything to get everything out on the table and be honest about your feelings. I did that. I’ll leave it at that,” Weight said. “Certainly I wanted to be comfortable moving forward on kind of everybody’s plan. We’re a team of guys working towards the same goal and that’s what I feel has been transmitted to me.”

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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