Doug Weight Can Carry the Islanders to the 2017-18 Playoffs

Will Doug Weight carry the New York Islanders into the playoffs in 2017? With the long warm days of August upon us, so are slow times in the hockey news world. For an Islanders fan, they often slow to crawl. There was the announcement that Shane Prince will be out 4-6 months for recovery.

As for moves, the only move that Garth Snow made recently was to sign the hardworking Stephen Gionta. He is a player whose value is not measured in stats, but the heart, maturity and work-ethic, to a two-way contract with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Giving the Islanders depth for injuries and setting an example for the young players, Matthew Barzal, Scott Easnor, and Josh Ho-Sang that hope to make an impact in the NHL during the upcoming season.

There have been many moves that general manager Garth Snow has orchestrated over the years, leaving Islanders fans frustrated and confused. For example, the 2016 season move of Matt Martin, Kyle Okposo, and Frans Nielsen. That is a move that many would rather forget. Especially in light of the first half of the 2016-17 campaign. The Islanders went a paltry 17-17-8 during that time. They ranked last in the Metropolitan Division. That lead to the firing of Jack Capuano and the appointment of Doug Weight as interim head coach. It also began the turnaround of the the team. They finished the 2016-17 season strong, but missed the playoffs by a heartbreaking single game.

Of the games under Weight, they won seven games against playoff teams, including the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Proving that this team can win against the best in the NHL. The fan base, though disappointed has high expectations for the 2017-18 season. Which begs the question, can they improve this season? Given their record, on paper it sure looks like it.

How big of a difference did the coaching change make? The Penguins changed coaches midway through the 2015-16 season and have now won two Stanley Cups under Mike Sullivan. The Islanders were able to turn their season around, in a dramatic fashion after Weight’s appointment and subsequent hiring.

The Isles players seem equally as optimistic as most of the fanbase. The Islanders players have stated on multiple occasions that they love playing for him. In a recent interview with the NHL Network, Islanders Winger, Shane Prince said of Weight, “He’s been through it, he knows what it takes to win.”

Weight often deflects blame for losses to “being outcoached” a small but significant deflection. That allows players to  work on improving, without shouldering the wins and losses. Speak to any player of any sport and they love it when coaches do this for them.

With the addition of Jordan Eberle, acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers. This team certainly has the ability to be competitive, but can Weight direct the team to the playoffs in his first full year behind the bench? Only time will tell, either way, this should be a fun team to watch.

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