This story originally ran in the Jan. Feb. 15-29 issue of Ducks Digest. Pick one up for free at every Ducks home game.
By Adam Brady
When the Ducks made a trade last December that sent Andy McDonald to the St. Louis Blues and brought in Doug Weight, it sent shockwaves through the Ducks community. That shock also extended to Weight himself, who was in the middle of his sixth season with the Blues and had established himself as a fixture in St. Louis.
But the 37-year-old Weight was certainly used to being traded, as Anaheim became his fifth team in his 16 years in the league. And he benefited from the last time he was dealt mid-season, two years ago when the Carolina Hurricanes picked him up at the late January trade deadline. He went on to help the Hurricanes to their first Stanley Cup, then returned to St. Louis as a free agent that summer.
Although his effect on the Ducks’ playoff hopes is yet to be seen, especially after his recent right shoulder injury, Weight had an immediate impact when he arrived in Anaheim. He and veteran defenseman Scott Niedermayer both made their first appearances in the lineup on Dec. 16, and the Ducks went on a 12-2-2 run to climb the Western Conference standings and get into playoff position. Also during that stretch, the smooth-passing Weight notched his 700th career assist, placing him fifth all-time among U.S.-born players.
Ducks Digest: What was your initial reaction when you heard you were traded to the Ducks?
Weight: Well, it was definitely a surprise, but it’s part of the business. Obviously I spent seven years for the most part in St. Louis and things were going well for the team for the first time in four or five years. To think of moving your family cross country is tough. Obviously I have high regard for Anaheim and this team, but you can’t say you’re a real good teammate if you’re looking to get out of your situation. You want to be loyal and you want to do it where you’re living. You don’t want to uproot everybody. But I feel great to be here. The family is here and we’ve adapted and been treated great. I couldn’t be happier. You just deal with things like that when they come across and try to be professional and make decisions. Once you do, you don’t look back.
You’ve been moved a few times in your career. Do you ever get used to it?
It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, change is tough. You get transferred and things change, or you get out of grade school and go on to high school and it’s a new experience. You don’t know what to expect from each place and it’s always a challenge. But I think with each one you learn. You maybe get a little smarter and you know what’s coming a little more. The older you get, you get more support. You have you wife, your family, your friends around you. I have a great support system, so it was really not that hard.
“There is nothing like making an unbelievable pass and giving a guy an empty net, because you know he’s getting that feeling of scoring a goal.”
How was the reception you received here?
It was great. We’ve got a great team as far as personnel and it’s a lot of good guys. Most rooms you go in, you just try to fit in the first couple of weeks. It’s been really easy here and I feel real comfortable. I’m lucky to be here.
How did this trade compare to when you were sent to Carolina in 2006?
It was a little bit different. These guys won the Cup last year, so there is a lot to back up. I think it’s similar based on the type of teams. Both teams could be considered one of the best in the league. It’s exciting to me. It was the same situation in Carolina. We had a stacked team and I think they were tied for the lead overall in points when I got there. I went there and we jelled and get better and better, and the playoffs spoke for themselves. It’s similar to coming here, and hopefully the outcome is the same.
What was it like winning that Cup with a team you had only played for since the mid-point of that season?
I felt like I had played there for four years. The guys were great to me and the organization was awesome. The whole situation from the brass down to the players was really easy, and it’s been the same way here. I still talk to a lot of those guys and I felt like I was a big part of that team and I was really proud of what I was able to bring to them. More importantly, it was a team full of friends. I didn’t think twice about the fact that I didn’t get there until January. I felt like I was a big part of it.
You take pride in passing the puck. Is that something that was instilled in you early in your hockey life?
My dad, from the time I was 5 years old, told me I need to shoot more. It’s the way I’ve always seen the game. I’ve always tried to be a good one-on-one player and be able to pull up and stop and make moves on guys. But after my move, I’d always try to draw someone to get someone open for an empty-netter or a one-timer. Make a nice pass through the legs. Some guys who like to play one-on-one, it’s all about beating a guy and getting to the net. Certain times I have to do that, but my instincts are to find the open guy and get him the puck in a comfortable position so he can have a great shot on net. I’ve been lucky to play with a lot of great players over the years, and we’ve complimented each other well.
How does the feeling of setting up a teammate compare to scoring one yourself?
It’s almost better for me. Getting goals is a great feeling individually, but I love making great plays to guys you play with, guys you’re friends with. There is nothing like making an unbelievable pass and giving a guy an empty net, because you know he’s getting that feeling of scoring a goal. That’s my mindset and I certainly enjoy them equally.
“We’ve got a great team as far as personnel and it’s a lot of good guys. Most rooms you go in, you just try to fit in the first couple of weeks. It’s been really easy here and I feel real comfortable. I’m lucky to be here.”
You seem to derive so much joy out of playing the game. Is that part of what drives you?
It’s fun, but it’s still a job. It’s turned into 12 months a year with the training. When the team is losing or you’re not performing up to standards, you take it home with you. You can’t sleep, you don’t eat well, you’re tossing and turning, the media is on you, whatever the case may be at certain times. But when you get on the ice and practice, you’re screwing around with the guys in the room, and definitely during games, it’s a lot of fun. We’re playing for a lot of people and we have a big responsibility to be professional, but I think you get a lot more out of yourself if you can find that drive to compete with everybody on your team and their team, trying to be the best player you can be out there. It’s still a lot of fun, but there is a fine line.
How have you adjusted to living in Southern California?
It’s awesome out here. It’s so beautiful in the mornings. I’m renting a place in Newport Beach and I’ve got my family with me. I’ve got a really nice house in a nice area and we’re getting to know the area out here. Waking up in the with the sun shining is just beautiful.
The following questions and answers did not appear in Ducks Digest:
Earlier this season you tallied your 700th assists, which put you fifth among U.S.-born players. What does that kind of feat mean to you?
I think at the end of the years, you know where you are as far as all that stuff stands, but you try not to pay too much attention to it. That’s a neat accomplishment and I’d like to keep passing the puck and keep scoring. It’s special to see that list and see some great players. All those things are great, but it’s more pride for your kids and your family. Whether you played 10 games in the league or 2,000, whether you had 5,000 points or 40, everyone has a legacy. It’s a special thing to get to this level. But so much is involved in how the team is doing and if you’re winning. You could have 80 points, but if the team isn’t going to make the playoffs it’s a bad year. That’s the way it should be.
|"[On the 2002 Olympic team] we were really proud of the silver medal and it was pretty awesome playing for Herb. He was a good man, a really nice man." |
You played for the legendary Herb Brooks in the 2002 Olympics. What was that experience like?
Herb was awesome. He was very unique. I think at that time in his coaching career, he handled things a lot differently. We all saw what he did with that ’80 Olympic team and how he handled those young guys and we all saw it in the movie “Miracle.” He was tough and tough to read. He kept everybody on their toes and beat them up for months to keep them mentally strong. But when you’re dealing with professionals who are all stars of their teams, he came in and handled it great.
On that 2002 team, I really felt like from beginning to end we just rolled. We had a rough third period against Canada, but we played Russia twice and played probably two of the best games I’ve ever been a part of. The stands were nuts. It was right after 9/11 and we were in Salt Lake City and it was ridiculous in that building. We came out flat in the third period against Canada, and they beat us 5-2. But we were really proud of the silver medal and it was pretty awesome playing for Herb. He was a good man, a really nice man.