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Scott Gomez hired as assistant coach by Islanders

37-year-old played 16 seasons in NHL, won Stanley Cup twice with Devils

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- When things weren't going well near the end of Scott Gomez's NHL playing career, the center turned to Doug Weight for guidance.

"He always had time and words of encouragement," Gomez said. "It's funny how the hockey world works."

Less than a year after deciding to end a playing career that spanned 16 seasons, Gomez was hired Tuesday by the New York Islanders as an assistant coach under Weight.

"A couple of months ago, [Doug] texted me and said he wanted to talk," said Gomez, who worked with NHL Network this season. "We got on the phone and he asked me what my plans were, what I wanted to do. We ended up talking hockey for a few hours. I met him for a couple of interviews and got offered the job."

Gomez is the second assistant Weight has hired in the past two weeks; Luke Richardson joined the Islanders on May 18.

Gomez was selected by the New Jersey Devils with the No. 27 pick of the 1998 NHL Draft and won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 1999-2000 after finishing with 70 points (19 goals, 51 assists) in 82 games. He helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup that season while playing for coach Larry Robinson. Gomez also won the Cup with New Jersey in 2003 with coach Pat Burns.

Gomez had 756 points (181 goals, 575 assists) in 1,079 NHL games with the Devils, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators. He had 101 points (29 goals, 72 assists) in 149 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"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."

After having one assist in 13 games with the Senators in 2015-16, Gomez announced his retirement Sept. 1. The Senators were his fifth NHL team in four seasons. He said those trying times will prove to be beneficial as he begins his coaching career.

"I knew playing for all those teams at the end, I got to see a lot of stuff and I took a lot of notes," Gomez said. "I was a student of the game the whole time. I got an Ivy League education right when I got in, a hockey education from some of the greats. There's still guys that I count on and learn from, but it's not just something that we're friends and he's giving me a chance; we did the interview process, and hopefully I can bring something to the table. It doesn't matter how old you are, it's whether you can produce."

After a disappointing start that ultimately led to the firing of coach Jack Capuano on Jan. 17, the Islanders went 24-12-4 under Weight and missed qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs by one point. Gomez said he was not shocked by how the Islanders responded after the change.

"[Capuano's] awesome; we all know how this business works," Gomez said. "But I'm not surprised. Just knowing Doug Weight, he's just got that presence. At the same time, he's a guy that whether you're a fourth-line guy or that guy out of the lineup, he's not going to forget about you. He's always a guy that's going to be there for anyone. I think that's really important as a coach.

"I've known [Doug] a long time, going all the way back to when he played for Lake [Superior] State and he was beating up on our Alaska teams. Playing against him and then playing with him at the World Cup, we'd always be at the board together going over certain plays and situations. He was an American idol to us; he was just unreal to us young guys. He just had that presence."

During his first season of retirement, Gomez said he enjoyed being an analyst on NHL Network. But something was missing and he wanted to be even closer to the action.

"NHL Network was great to me," Gomez said. "But this was my life's goal, my life's work. This is what I know and this is what I want to be a part of. Nothing will ever match playing in the NHL, but all the older guys I've spoken to say this is the closest thing. To be able to give back and work with guys and see it on the ice, that's just as gratifying. I'm definitely excited about that."

Gomez is expected to work with a power play that ranked 28th (14.9 percent) in the NHL this season, though he said that hasn't been determined. He may not be the final addition to the coaching staff; Bob Corkum will not return, but Greg Cronin's status is to be determined. Sportsnet reported this month that Kelly Buchberger, who was Weight's teammate with the Edmonton Oilers, is expected to join the Islanders staff.

"I just got in the door. Whatever [Doug] tells me," Gomez said. "You've got to know all the aspects of the game. I'm not just going in there saying, 'Hey, I know the power play.' No. You've got to learn from the goalie, defense … you've got to learn everything."

He'll be learning from the same man he leaned on during difficult times. Gomez hasn't forgotten how helpful Weight was then.

"It's my turn to give back to Doug Weight," Gomez said. "He got me in the door. It's exciting."

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