When Doug Weight was named interim head coach in January, had been non-committal about whether or not he wanted to eventually become the full-time head coach of the New York Islanders.
The 46-year-old wanted to prove to himself first that he could do the job. He'd been an Assistant Coach for five-and-a-half years, but moving six feet down the bench comes with a whole new set of pressures and responsibilities.
Weight went 24-12-4 over his 40-game trial run, demonstrating to himself and the Islanders' organization that he was ready to become the 12th Head Coach in team history, which he was announced as on Wednesday morning.
"I gained momentum as I felt our team did. I felt confident that it was the right thing to do, that I could do it," Weight said. "I'm proud that I prepared for four years. I did a lot of things in the offseason that prepared me if I did go in that direction and learned from a lot of good people. I definitely did gain momentum as the season went on, from the first game I coached to the last."
While Weight was evaluating himself, General Manager Garth Snow was taking note as well. Weight passed Snow's test, as reflected by the record - which earned the second-most wins (24) and points (52) since Jan. 19 - and in how the team responded to his presence.
"The respect the players had for Doug and as soon as he walks into the room, he has the command of the room," Snow said. "I think you see how the players competed for him. Those are all positive attributes that Doug brought and brings to the table as Head Coach."
Snow added that Weight's experience as Assistant Coach and Assistant General Manager arms him an intimate knowledge of the organization. He's helped draft players, he's been involved in trade talks and free agency. Weight was the pitchman for Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera, and mentored and housed John Tavares when he broke into the league.
"There's definitely a comfort level from the players with Doug," Snow said. The Islanders made their feelings about Weight known during the second half, as well as clean out day.
"You saw what he brought to the team and really sparked the great finish we had to the season and gave us a great opportunity to make it," Tavares said. "A lot of guys responded individually as well. I think he did a great job at handling the group. We have a lot of respect for Dougie."
Weight thanked the Islanders' coaching staff for coming together to support him and the team during his half season as interim coach. There's at least one vacancy on the bench, as Weight needs to fill the assistant role that he vacated.
"I've got to start thinking about what I was detailing in each game and what we need to work on as a team," Weight said. "We need to improve as a certain areas, so that's a focus. Rest assured, no matter who comes in, it'll be people with passion that work and have a track record of success."
Weight made some little changes around the team in his time as the interim coach, including showing the daily standings in the Islanders locker room as a motivational tool. He said with a summer to prepare, he'll be making other on and off-ice changes to help the Islanders get back to the postseason.
"There will be things that I want to do differently, from little things when they show up to the rink, to timing of things, to things on the ice and the way we practice and training camp," Weight said. "I definitely have some acute ideas that should be developing our culture."
He'll have his chance to shape that culture and this team. As of Wednesday, it's officially his.