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Doug Weight to remain Islanders coach

New York was 24-12-4 after he took over at midseason, but missed playoffs

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

Doug Weight will remain coach of the New York Islanders.

The Islanders, who went 24-12-4 after Weight replaced Jack Capuano on Jan. 17, had the NHL's second-best record from Jan. 19 until the end of the season. They ended the season with a six-game winning streak but finished one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Weight, who admitted Wednesday that when he got the job he wasn't sure if being a coach was something he wanted to do long-term, will continue to serve as assistant general manager.

"I wasn't lying to everybody when I [said] I was kind of taking it a day at a time and just really focused on once we got close to that playoff race to trying to get in the playoffs and compete," said Weight, the Islanders' 19th coach since entering the NHL in 1972. "It was probably the two days after the season, to be honest. I felt like a good feeling coming out of the year after the last game against [the Ottawa Senators, a 4-2 win Sunday] and talked about it a lot with friends and obviously my family and people within the organization.

"We just worked hard at it for two days. It was important to me to meet with all of my bosses face to face and talk about things I believe in, that communication, that clarity, as do they. By the time we went to our wrapup dinner [Tuesday] night, I was feeling really good about it, as were they, and that was exciting to me. I would say in the last 48 hours, nothing really changed in my mind."

Video: Doug calls into the studio discuss his new job title

Having Weight, 46, as coach is a relief to general manager Garth Snow.

"I was just hoping and my fingers crossed on a personal level, because it's a big commitment," Snow said. "Doug has obviously a family, a lot of moving parts going on in his life away from hockey. I know that the stars had to align for him personally to accept this responsibility, so I was happy that Doug and his family had that comfort level."

The Islanders were last in the Eastern Conference when Weight took over, but he managed to get them back in the playoff mix despite a schedule that included a nine-game road trip, the longest in their history, from Feb. 21 through March 11. The Islanders went 5-3-1 and remained in the race to the final weekend.

"It was real seamless; everybody picked up the rope and pulled on it and helped me," Weight said. "The players responded. I think once I felt like the players were responding and the more meetings I had and we changed a couple of things as a staff, I felt like the players responded. Our team got better from a few things. I did feel very confident that way.

"I had a couple of games admittedly in [media] scrums after that I felt like maybe you didn't get outcoached or whatnot, but I didn't react to certain things as well as I'd like. You learn from those things. It's experience. It's different … you move six feet on a bench [from being an assistant] and you think it'll be relatively the same, and it's not. There's a lot more pressure as far as making those decisions and getting the vibe of your team and going with your gut as times. But I really did gain momentum as I felt our team did. I felt confident that I felt if it was the right thing to do that I could do it.

"I'm proud that I prepared for four years. I did a lot of things in the offseason that kind of prepared me if I did go that direction and learned from a lot of good people, so I definitely did gain momentum as the season went on from the first game I coached to the last."

Weight said he'll probably make changes to the coaching staff. Assistant Bob Corkum joined Weight after Capuano was fired; Greg Cronin has been an assistant since the 2014-15 season.

"That's what I've got to get to work on now," Weight said. "I'm excited that I can be entrusted. We've got to work diligently. I want good people that want to work and that have a passion to win and have respect and knowledge. You want everything that's good around your team."

With his coach in place, Snow can turn his attention to potential roster upgrades and the NHL Expansion Draft and 2017 NHL Draft in June. He also has the ability to re-sign captain and center John Tavares beginning on July 1. Tavares, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, has next season remaining on his contract.

"Obviously, John's been here since [he was] an 18-year-old kid," Snow said. "Obviously, [he's] the face of our team, our franchise. He knows how we feel about him and how much respect we have for him as a player and as a person. We can't say enough good things about what John brings to the organization.

"We're going to give it our best shot in getting him signed. He's got one more year on his six-year contract. That should happen towards the end of June, July and we'll start that process."

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