Weight agrees to play on the wing
The last time center Doug Weight played on the wing, Wayne Gretzky had just completed his rookie season in the NHL with Edmonton and the dynastic Islanders had yet to embark on their historic four-year run as Stanley Cup champions. It was in 1979.
Weight, who flanked Rob Schremp Monday against the Kings, will become much more accustomed to the position in the near future, however, given the Islanders' desire to develop young emerging centers such as John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Schremp and Frans Nielsen.
"Whatever needs, I can do it," Weight said. "If he needs me to center a couple shifts, I'll do it. If he wants me on the wing - left or right - I'm fine with it."
Gordon first discussed the possibility of shifting Weight from the pivot before training camp this summer. Knowing the Islanders wanted to facilitate and expedite the growth of the young centers on the team, Weight offered to take on the role.
Gordon appreciated the gesture and said the 38-year-old Weight's willingness to play a different position will help his future with the team.
"If you look at the big picture, you make yourself more versatile and more attractive to our team and 29 other teams down the road," Gordon said. "If we have four skilled centermen [next season] and Doug is just locked in to center, it makes it harder to bring him back because he's eventually going to take ice time away from those guys."
Those guys - Tavares, Bailey, Schremp and Nielsen - are players whom Gordon wants to groom at the center position and form into a force up the middle.
"It's important that whatever struggles they have from being young, they play at their natural positions," Gordon said. "Doug's not going to play forever. The fact that he's willing to play the wing allows us to have more options for him."
Weight, who was elected the team's captain before the beginning of this season, said he's not worried about his value to any other teams. His only concern right now is helping this Islanders team, and if playing on the wing is the best way to do it, then that's what he'll do.
"I want to be part of this team's success whether it's on the wing or in the middle," Weight said. "Wherever it means I'm going to be on the ice, so be it."