New York Islanders Doug Weight: Living Up to Expectations
By Kate Eliou
Recently appointed New York Islanders head coach, Doug Weight must prove himself worthy during this upcoming year, this being his first full season officially holding the position.
It has not been long enough yet for New York Islanders fans to forget the long tenure of Jack Capuano behind the bench and for many that time will never come. Whether it was his gruff mannerisms, his playoff series win or even the rumors about his living situation that made him memorable, Capuano will for generations to come be a name that gets fans talking.
It was no surprise to the fan base when Capuano was relieved of his duties this past January, even after a dominant 4-0 win over the Boston Bruins the day before. Many had been clamoring for his firing for years despite his recent playoff success.
Although it is true that Capuano coached the 2015-2016 Islander team to round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was becoming quite clear that his dump-and-chase style of play was no longer going to get the job done in the modern hockey world. He also was known for his dismissal of rookies and young players, sitting them before giving them a true chance to fully come into their own.
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The tipping point for Capuano was an abysmal first half of the 2016-2017 season. With the team going 17-17-8, fans were not only demanding his firing but his head.
It had long since been time to say goodbye to Jack Capuano, despite him having won the second most games in New York Islanders history with 227 wins and him leading the team to their first playoff series victory in 23 years. After his dismissal, Capuano was replaced by then assistant coach Doug Weight who completed the season as interim head coach.
What Weight Can Bring to The Islanders
I will be the first to admit that I was not initially satisfied with this move long-term. As assistant coach, Weight had been heavily involved in the Islanders power play, which has been severely lacking for years. As the team was consistently at the bottom of league PP rankings, I was unimpressed with Doug Weight at first, although relieved to see Capuano go.
However, over the second half of the season, Weight proved himself suited to coach an NHL team. Visibly more invested in the team from behind the bench, he helped the Islanders improve from their lowest point to nearly scraping their way into a playoff spot, with a second half record of 24-12-4.
This new Islanders team seemed more cohesive and even at times impressive, defeating the soon to be Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-3 game that almost had a playoff atmosphere. Weight filled the position of coach perfectly, adamantly calling for the review of an interference call in what felt like a battle of the coaches between himself and Penguins coach, Mike Sullivan.
During this offseason, Weight was announced as the official head coach of the New York Islanders for the upcoming 2017-2018 season. Although some called for the position to be filled by one of the various other relieved coaches this past year, many of their styles mimicked that of Capuano.
What the Islanders needed and still need is a coach who will utilize his young players with the ability to adapt to the newer, faster and more skill driven hockey being played in the modern NHL and it seems they could find those things already behind their own bench.
It only makes sense to continue with Doug Weight and the success he has brought the team so far. Although only serving as coach for a short time, he seems to have proved himself ready to give this team the guidance they need in a crucial season.
Next: Past Islanders Calder Winners
Going into October, Islanders fans and the players themselves have high hopes for the new coach and the 2017-2018 season as a whole.