Doug Weight (Photo courtesy of Getty Images).
It didn't take long before tears came streaming down as Doug Weight announced his retirement earlier today. Following 19 seasons and six NHL destinations, the ex-Oiler stepped away from playing duty and accepted a new role with the New York Islanders.
Weight will now be reporting as an assistant coach on Long Island, but the emotion during this morning's press conference was stirred when he began looking back on his time in Edmonton. Spanning nine seasons, #39 donned the copper and blue, establishing career years with the rebuilding Oilers.
More than anything, it was the people of Edmonton and class of the Oilers organization that moved the normally reserved 40-year-old.
"It was my time in Edmonton that hit me when I started talking about the team and the city. Right away, I became very emotional," Weight explained.
"I realized what it meant to me and what I learned there. It was the best hockey I've ever played and the most I'd ever been challenged.
"Everything you want is in a city like Edmonton," he added. "What a place to live."
Weight's career in Edmonton was sadly cut short due to a shaky payroll that hindered on-ice personnel moves. Along with Michel Riesen, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the summer of 2001. Marty Reasoner, Jochen Hecht and Jan Horacek composed the return package for the Oilers.
It was a situation that Weight had a tough time dealing with.
"In looking back, I would have loved to have stayed in Edmonton; not to get traded," he said. "I remember Kevin (Lowe) coming up to me. We talked during the summer, and a week later he pretty much explained to me that it was going to be real hard to pay me what everybody else was being paid.
"I didn't look forward to anything for a while. I knew I was going to miss the Edmonton culture and the feel and all those things that we built together as a team. It was hard. It would have been great to win a Stanley Cup on that ice."
Although his tenure in Edmonton ended in sadness, happy times were had as his brave Oilers squads battled the NHL's elite in continuous battles for post-season supremacy in the late 90s. One moment in particular stands out for the grizzled veteran as Edmonton overcame the odds in a dramatic series (and overtime) victory in 1997.
"You're talking about teams with 40 more points than you in the regular season -- teams that usually had a payroll of $30 to $40 million more than we did at the very least, and we were able to beat Dallas. I remember getting the puck at centre ice and seeing [Todd Marchant] next to me just flying, so I threw the puck over."
Marchant's overtime winner sent Edmonton back home for a second-round matchup against the Colorado Avalanche, where the fans at Northlands Coliseum helped welcome the boys back.
Weight said of the ruckus crowds, "walking out in the second round in the playoffs at home -- oh my gosh. It was an unbelievable place to be successful."
Weight will always be remembered as a dynamic scoring centre, but his unparalleled leadership extended hope, tradition and class to an already respected Edmonton club. Weight recalled a moment that truly altered his view as a teammate and captain during a disappointing late-season stretch early in his Oilers career.
"We were really struggling," he said. "We were about six points out of the playoffs and we held a meeting out on the ice [in practice]. I'll never forget this. It was about a 10-minute meeting; and as a person, a player and a leader I think I grew a lot. I really challenged about seven or eight guys and ended it with a challenge to myself.
"I wasn't really comfortable calling people out. I was never that type of leader and I'm still not today, but I really believed that we were a good enough team. I'm proud of this moment because I think we ran off a streak of about 10 wins and tied a record of the Oilers in the early 80s with 10 or 11 wins. We ended up making the playoffs, and it was an amazing stretch for me to be a part of and be a leader of that team."
These moments aren't typically shared, but the opportunity to look back and smile on the moments that founded Weight's successful career naturally came to roost on this special day of celebration.
"As an individual, you don't talk about those things and I've actually never talked about that with anybody," he said. "That's something that I'm proud of and I remember like it was yesterday. I take that with me as an individual to make a team stronger."
All things considered, Weight's wonderful career was highlighted with some of the most impressive accomplishments possible: 1033 career regular season points (278 goals), four-time All-Star, played on three US Olympic teams, and won the Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006.
"I was able to win and I met a lot of great people along the way."
Author: Ryan Dittrick | edmontonoilers.com