Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weight to retire Thursday

Another great American born player will call it quits later this week. As expected, Doug Weight will announce his retirement at a press conference on Long Island Thursday.

The 40 year-old has had a brilliant 18-year NHL career playing with half a dozen teams (NYR, Edm, Stl, Car, Ana, NYI). Highlights include a Stanley Cup with the '06 Hurricanes, an Olympic silver medal ('02 Salt Lake City), four All-Star selections along with reaching 1,000 career points with his final team, the Islanders in '09-10. He finishes with 1,033 points including 755 assists along with 278 goals over 1,238 games.

One of the best playmaking American centers to play the game, Weight started out on the other side of the Battle Of New York after being selected by the Rangers in the '90 Draft via the second round (34th overall). The Warren Michigan native lasted less than two seasons on Broadway with '94 Cup architecht Neil Smith dealing him to trade partner Glen Sather and Edmonton for Esa Tikkanen. While the deal helped his former team break a 54-year drought the following year, it did wonders for Weight's career, emerging into one of the game's craftiest passers.

Over the next decade, Weight developed into a superb top line center capable of threading the needle from any angle while also finishing just enough to keep opponents honest. He became a power play fixture, able to work his magic from the boards or behind the net and find open teammates. The unselfish Oiler also was solid all around, capable of playing in his end. However, his main job was to produce and he did just that in '95-96 going over the century mark for the only time in his career. Weight played in all 82 games, finishing with 25 goals and a remarkable 79 assists totaling a career best 104 points, including 46 power play points (9-37-46). Even though they missed the postseason a fifth consecutive year, that finally changed the following season.

Led by Weight and Curtis Joseph, the Oilers pulled off back-to-back first round upsets over the Stars in '97 and the Avalanche in '98 before falling short in the Western Conference Semifinals. However, Dallas soon became their kryptonite ousting them from the first round repeatedly following Todd Marchant's shorthanded sudden death series clincher. With Weight getting closer to unrestricted free agency, Kevin Lowe knew the club couldn't afford to keep him. After nine years spent in Alberta, he was traded to St. Louis during the summer of '01, allowing him more opportunities to try to win.

As a Blue, he wasn't asked to be the main guy but teamed up with Pierre Turgeon to form a nice 1-2 punch down the middle. A bit older, Weight was still a good enough performer to be near a point-per-game while providing St. Louis with another power play threat aside from Chris Pronger. With Pavol Demitra also part of the core and Joel Queeneville behind the bench, the Blues had some good seasons but only got out of the first round once before the lockout. Following the work stoppage, Weight was dealt near the trade deadline to Carolina where he finally won it all with the Canes. In his 10th try (11th if you count 1 playoff cameo in '91 w/NYR), the old school center proved he still had it, posting a career best 16 points (3-13-16) with more than half via the PP (2-7-9). On a strong roster that boasted Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward, Eric Staal, Erik Cole, Justin Williams and Ray Whitney, Weight and Carolina won it all, ironically outlasting his former club Edmonton in a hard fought seven games.

Following the success in Raleigh, Weight returned to St. Louis once more where he put up his highest total since pre-lockout, finishing with 59 points (16-43-59). In his second year, he again was dealt this time to the Ducks but the club fell in five games trying to defend its championship.

Weight's final three years were spent on Long Island with the Islanders where his leadership has allowed a young nucleus including John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner to grow. Over three seasons, Weight was injury riddled but still a solid citizen who was a good Islander and team captain that led by example. In three seasons, he tallied 13 goals and 51 assists for 64 points over 107 games. Unfortunately, Weight got into only 18 his final year, registering two goals and seven helpers with five power play points.

While he won't make the Hockey Hall Of Fame, his credentials are certainly worthy of being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall Of Fame. One of our country's best who wore the red, white and blue with pride, including during Team USA's run to the '96 World Cup championship where he finished with three goals and four helpers for seven points over seven contests. A silver medalist, two-time Olympian and Cup winner who was also a champion off the ice.

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