In a ceremony filled with tears, laughs, and nostalgia, Doug Weight announced his retirement as an NHL player on Thursday. Flanked by Islanders General Manager Garth Snow and team owner Charles Wang on a dais, Weight read a prepared statement but at times was overcome with emotion. His family, former teammates from several franchises, and a large amount of Islanders staff were on hand to join the Islanders captain for his "day of celebration."
While his playing days are over, it was revealed that Doug will stay with the Islanders as an assistant coach and special advisor to the General Manager. In a career filled with many high points, he noted that he regretted not being healthy enough to perform at a high standard for the Isles. He stated many times during the day, though, that he believes he has plenty to offer the team in a non-playing role.
Having watched Weight on the ice for many years, I knew what kind of player he was. While he often wasn't the most offensively talented piece on many of his teams (not to take away from a 1033 point career), you can see why he was a captain for two franchises. It's more than having a "presence" in a room, as Garth Snow put it. The man reeks of class.
The thing that most struck me was that even though his greatest achievements came in places other than New York, he acts and talks as if he had played on Long Island for 15 years. He and his family have made the Island their permanent home. His donations to local charities were highlighted. And most of all, he is a revered figure by young Isles such as John Tavares and Matt Moulson, who were on hand. It's hard to believe that he played only 107 games an Islander.
Despite being 40 years old, Weight called himself "green" with respect to management and coaching, and admitted that he has a lot to learn. Though he felt blessed to lift the Cup (with Carolina in 2006), he speaks in a manner that tells you he is eager to do it again. Unfortunately, his body will no longer allow it on the ice. But he noted that he is hopeful of repeating the scene "on the other side of the boards," as he put it.
So on this day congratulations, and thank you, to Doug Weight. I join a legion of hockey fans today in appreciation of his career.