Even in retirement, the accolades continue to accrue for Doug Weight.
Nearly one month after announcing that he would not return for a 20th NHL season, the four-time NHL All-Star added a final note to his Hall Of Fame playing career, winning the King Clancy Memorial Trophy at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, June 22.
“I’m really proud to have been picked and recognized, first of all by my team and secondly by the NHL from a group of 30 worthy players who made commitments to their teams and their communities,” Weight said. “I’m really honored to accept this award.”
|Doug Weight poses after winning the King Clancy Memorial Trophy during the 2011 NHL Awards at the Palms Casino Resort June 22, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) |
The trophy is presented annually to the player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” Injuries limited Weight to 18 games in his final season, but the Islanders captain treated his ailment as an opportunity to become an even stronger leader for the Islanders.
“Let’s not pull any punches – I’m a better leader when I’m playing at a high level, so that was a challenge for me,” Weight said. “Throughout my career, when I was a captain or in a leadership role and was healthy, it made that accountability level a lot easier. Of course, you still have to challenge your teammates whether you’re hurt or not, but when you’re not playing every day and getting a chance to produce, it’s a real challenge.”
While rehabilitating his season-ending back injury, Weight remained an everyday presence with the Islanders, taking on a coaching roll with his teammates during practices and maintaining his leadership role as captain in the locker room. The decision to remain so close to the young team, Weight says, was largely influenced by General Manager Garth Snow.
“My wife pointed out to me that it was a challenge to come to work every day with a smile on my face, knowing that it could be my last year and knowing that I wasn’t getting healthy, but Garth trusted me and gave me a lot of responsibility,” Weight said. “That’s something I would never pass up because I was feeling down on myself. He wanted me at those games and I wanted to make the commitment to help.”
The Islanders Captain had to work harder than ever to be a leader on the team. However, his increased involvement in Islanders community initiatives this season came naturally.
“With the added downtime this year, I certainly had the chance to be more involved in some charity work and learn a little bit more about the community work we do,” Weight said. “There are so many things that the Islanders as an organization do and they really steer the ship, cross the “T’s” and dot the “I’s” for us to be in a position to get involved in the community. They make it easy for us as players and then when we get into it, we find out how fulfilling it is and how important it is to those people whose lives we’re affecting."
|Doug Weight of the New York Islanders accepts the King Clancy Memorial Trophy during the 2011 NHL Awards at The Pearl concert theater at the Palms Casino Resort June 22, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images) |
The King Clancy Award was presented to the NHL by the Board of Governors in 1988 to honor the late Frank "King" Clancy. Notable past winners include Bryan Trottier (1989), Ray Bourque (1992), Adam Graves (1994) and Brendan Shanahan (2003).
"It is great company to find yourself in,” Weight said. “There are some great players and great people that I’ve been able to meet during my career. It’s a special award and I can’t say enough about being here for it. It’s a pleasure to have my last year finish like this, at the awards show with all of these great players. I’ve met so many great people in the NHL and to be recognized like this is very humbling.”
With the 2011 NHL Awards Show officially capping off Weight’s final season as a player, he no doubt will be spending the final night of 2010-11 with the decadent trophy.
“I’m going to carry it around the hall tonight in the casino,” Weight joked. “I don’t think it’s like the Stanley Cup – I don’t know if they give you a replica of it or not, or if I get a day with it this summer, but I’m going to have to do some research on that.”