9:40 pm: While Evgeni Nabokov still hasn’t shown up and has been suspended by the Islanders, Doug Weight doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
A source tells Point Blank that Charles Wang and Garth Snow have had discussions with Weight about staying with the franchise in a hockey operations job after this season, when the 40-year-old center is expected to retire. Injuries have limited Weight’s playing career as an Islander to seasons of just 53, 36 and 18 games (so far in 2011-12). Over his NHL career, he has 1,033 points in 1,238 games.
Weight’s new role would likely be on the coaching staff of the NHL club as an assistant, or working with Garth Snow as an assistant general manager or director of hockey operations.
After two decades in the NHL, and with a young family on Long Island, it’s difficult to envision Weight spending six months a year on the road in Europe and throughout North America as the team’s scouting director. However, he is a very well-respected man and is connected in the industry.
Weight has also dabbled this season during his time on the injured list as an unofficial assistant coach, half-jokingly taking credit on “NHL Live” yesterday for devising a power play scheme that led to a few goals on the Islanders’ Western road trip in early January.
Of course, you don’t need a source to observe his increased role as a voice for the Islanders with each of his three seasons. Weight has arguably been the best spokesman the franchise has had since the days of William A. Torrey. Weight has vigorously expressed optimism over the last two seasons that the Islanders were a playoff team. In a few recent interviews – including this one with Brian Compton of NHL.com – he has voluntarily defended the commitment of Wang to the franchise, its players and its fans. Here’s Weight to Compton on Wang’s critics:
I find it humorous. We all know where these reputations come from. If Charles had a Stanley Cup or had a free agent or two come his way, things would change quickly. I believe that’s going to change. Charles is great. I’ve played for a lot of owners, and he’s first-class. He’s very confident. He just wants to learn the game and the system and he wants to talk about it with everybody. He wants everybody’s families to be comfortable.
He wants to win. Hopefully that can happen for him. I’ll probably be gone when it does, but hopefully it can happen for him. I heard everything before I got here, and it couldn’t be more different. The respect level he has is very high. It’s too bad. We can’t worry about those things, and I know he doesn’t. He goes out and does his thing.
Agree or disagree with the captain’s views, he appears to have one fact wrong. Weight will be here in the coming seasons. It’s just a matter of finding the right role for him.
My reaction to the news of the suspension of Nabokov: if this works out for the Islanders, they could have a good goaltender under contract for the 2011-12 season for less than $600,000.
The Islanders, minus Mark Streit and most of their defense, played tonight against the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin-less Penguins. The game became a battle of French Canadien goaltenders. Kevin Poulin was magnificent in stopping 30 of 31 Pittsburgh shots on goal, but Marc-Andre Fleury had a 29-save shutout for a 1-0 victory. Craig Adams scored his third goal of the season mid-way through the third. The Islanders did not generate enough offense by getting bodies to the front of the net, although Kyle Okposo hit a post and Fleury made some strong saves.
The game was also highlighted by a pair of spirited first period scraps between Travis Hamonic and Tyler Kennedy and Zenon Konopka and Arron Asham. Although the television broadcast did not make much of it, it sure looked like Matt Martin was assessed a two-minute minor for a legal, hard hit with six minutes left in the game.
Most of all, Poulin’s play made it seem like the Islanders have had an embarassment of riches in goal. They have Rick DiPietro. The departed Dwayne Roloson continues his outstanding season in Tampa Bay. And they have the rights to Evgeni Nabokov, even if he is in solitary.