Scott Gomez started to feel the coaching bug in his last few years in the NHL.
Gomez, who laced up his skates in 1,079 NHL games over 16 years, found himself looking out for younger players and imparting his knowledge of the game. One year removed from his retirement, Gomez has made the jump into coaching, becoming an Assistant Coach under Doug Weight.
"You're not playing much at the end there, but you're still helping the young guys and giving back what was given to me by all the great vets I had," Gomez said. "I worked for the NHL Network, NBC, did some TV and they were wonderful to me, it was great, but at the end of the day, I still have that passion and I wanted to get into coaching."
Gomez is the second assistant to join Weight since the end of the season, along with Luke Richardson. There's a theme there, as both Gomez and Richardson have 1000+ games on their resumes. Gomez also has two Stanley Cups.
"Scott brings an immense amount of hockey knowledge to our coaching staff," Weight said. "His offensive instincts, expertise on the power-play and the way he could control the game with his skating and smarts, are all key elements that we want implemented into our group. He played in the league as recently as the 2015-16 season so he can relate to today's NHL player in an effort to bring out the best in each member of the team."
The 37-year-old said the way coaches and players interact in today's game is different than when he entered the league in 1999, but that it suits his personality. Being an imposing, old-school coach doesn't mesh with his upbeat personality.
"These kids are a different age, it's a different era," Gomez said. "Playing 16 years you saw that some guys they didn't care about the fourth-line guys, or the third-line guys and that's just not the way it should be… You need everyone to win a Stanley Cup and every guy from the top guy to the bottom guy has something to prove, has something to work on in their game and I'm there to show them and help them out. That's where it's at now."
Gomez said he wants to help individual players improve their abilities, but also learn how to effectively develop their roles within the team. For a player who's been both a rookie of the year, a top playmaker and a wily vet, he can relate to a variety of players.
"You're not just telling a player to do something, you have to go out there every day and help him on the ice and show him. That's the most key part," Gomez said.
Gomez and Weight never played together in the NHL, but both represented the United States at the 2006 Winter Olympics and the 2004 World Cup. They've kept in touch since and Gomez said Weight called him out of the blue to talk about his upcoming plans. Those conversations led to an interview and Gomez joining the staff.
"We're friends, but that has nothing to do with it," Gomez said. "The guy has always been so great to me throughout my career, it kind of got my juices flowing even more when I got the opportunity to be with him. I'll be giving it my all, that's for sure.
"Whatever Dougie needs, that's my goal and that's the main goal from all our coaching staff is to make Dougie Weight look great."
And while working with Weight and getting into the coaching game drew Gomez into the Islanders' job, he's excited to work with what he sees as a playoff team..
"They can definitely make noise in the East… It's a good solid group and one point away from the playoffs last year, but that's a playoff team" he said. There's a lot of young talent and I'm looking forward to getting on the ice with them and trying to improve their game. That's the main goal, to make these guys better."