When Dale Weise
and his coach with the Swift Current Broncos, Dean Chynoweth
, had their year-end meeting at the conclusion of the 2006-07 season, it wasn't what you would call a fun session.
"We had it out in our year-end meeting ... I didn't like the direction it was going, and he had to be part of the solution or the problem," Chynoweth told NHL.com. "He always was a guy that had talent and always teased you a little bit; you'd see it but never on a consistent basis. ... His work ethic wasn't at a level it needed to be consistently. The type of player he envisioned himself being and the type of player I knew he needed to be were different. He's a physical guy with a hard shot, but he wasn't always willing to go those parts of the ice."
After Weise went unpicked for a second straight time in the NHL Entry Draft, the 6-foot-2, 206-pound forward had an epiphany.
"I think the biggest thing was he matured and realized how much work you have to put in," Chynoweth said. "The cliché, the light finally went on, suits his year and how things went."
Weise transformed himself, on and off the ice, and made his third time through the draft the charm, as he was selected in the fourth round (No. 111) by the New York Rangers
"I had a real good offseason," Weise told NHL.com. "I worked real hard. I had to work on my skating, had to get a little faster, a little stronger, and being a bigger guy, I play a power game. Just bring a little more physical aspect to it. I played a little more physical, I threw the body around a little bit more, took pucks to the net, I think that helped.
"I took things on my shoulders this year for our team. I led our team in goals this year. That was a key, I wanted to be one of our offensive guys, be one of our go-to guys, and I think I did that."
He did to the tune of career-highs of 29 goals, 22 assists and 51 points in 53 games. Those numbers came despite missing time with a broken right thumb. "It just kind of clicks every time now," Weise said with a smile
He also took a step off the ice. As a 19-year-old, he was an alternate captain with the Broncos. One of the other alternate captains was Zack Smith
, Weise's linemate, who also was 19 and had been passed over twice in the draft.
"They were two guys that knew I was going to rely on them for leadership and they knew they had to walk the walk if they were going to talk it," Chynoweth said. "It was great for our young kids to see. Dale took a step on the ice but he also took a step off the ice."
The maturity in his performance on and off the ice caught the attention of the Rangers.
"I liked probably every part of his game," Gordie Clark, the club's director of player personnel, told NHL.com. "I've watched him a lot, seen him over the years, and I did a lot of research.
"Dale went from a kid that probably, when he first came in, things didn't work out that well. When he came in at 17, to a kid that when it wasn't going that well, it was, 'I'm not playing with the right guys,' all the wrong excuses, instead of, 'I have to do something myself.' He went through the draft, was like, 'Woe is me, what's going on?' You wait to see what happens. Then it finally kicked in; he said, 'I have to do something about it.' And Dean said he came at the beginning of the year a different person right from the outset."
He reported to the Rangers' prospect development camp in early July and used the opportunity to audition for a pro contract. Weise has another year of junior eligibility remaining, but also can play in the American Hockey League or ECHL next season.
"The biggest thing is I'm just trying to show them what I'm about," Weise said. "I'm a good kid, I don't have any off-ice issues. I'm a hard worker. I come to work every day with the idea that I'm going to work as hard as I can to get better. Where they feel is the best for me is what I'm going to do. If I have to go back to junior for another year, I'll be happy. I had a good three years in Swift Current. If they decide I'm ready for pro, I'll be ecstatic. That's my goal, I want to earn a pro spot and make it hard on them."
Weise, a Winnipeg native, patterns his game after Keith Tkachuk
, going back to the power forward's days as a member of the Winnipeg Jets.
"Probably my favorite player growing up was the Winnipeg Jet, Keith Tkachuk
," Weise said. "I love the way he plays -- physical guy, he scored goals, he was out in front, he fought, he did it all."
As well as Weise performed on the ice, it's the way he matured last summer that earned him his place in the Rangers organization.
"He's got to continue what he started at the beginning of (last) year," said Clark. "This guy killed penalties, played on the power play, played five-on-five. This guy played everything. Skates, hits, he shoots. He's the type of player we certainly need more of in the Rangers' organization."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com.