NASHVILLE, Tenn. — “Interim” coach or not, Doug Weight’s mission is to win hockey games, first and foremost. But during his 2 ½ months on the job for the Islanders he has aced one of the ancillary parts of the gig: dealing with the news media.
Weight is a natural at it, which his predecessor, Jack Capuano, was not, and he has emerged as perhaps the most media-friendly coach / manager in the New York area this side of Terry Collins.
He said his ease in that role is a function both of his personality and of his experience as a player.
“I was a young American captain in Edmonton,” he said before Tuesday night’s game against the Predators. “Whether you have five wins or 50 wins you’ve got 16 cameras, and you’ve got a lot of difficult questions. If you’re not playing well, you’ve got to face the music, so there’s a lot of uncomfortable times and a lot of jovial times.
“That was the best training to me. Then you do some TV, and I’ve done plenty of that over the years, and you get comfortable with the cameras. And I like to talk. Usually you just have to ask me one question.”
Granted, the media contingent around the Islanders is far smaller than those that follow most pro teams in the area. But as with any team, things sometimes get complicated.
“It’s good that we started off great [in his term], so everything is rosy and easy,” he said, “but we’ve had some bumps in the last 2 ½ or three weeks, some tough questions and tough decisions that I have had to make and quite frankly your [reporters’] jobs are to question those things, who’s this, who’s that, who’s playing, whatever.
“So that’s been a good learning piece for me, too . . . Sometimes what happens is over time there are those relationships [with reporters] where you get a guy who is usually the guy asking those [pointed] questions and you’re going to get your back up. But there’s not enough time to worry about that stuff. People are going to do their jobs.
“You can’t overreact to it. People ask, why isn’t [Ryan] Pulock up? There are some good answers to it. I’m not always going to delve into everything, but that’s an OK question. You shouldn’t get upset for asking it.
“We have three goalies again coming up. Is that going to be an issue? It’s not going to be an issue, but it’s a good question because it was an issue earlier in this year, so why wouldn’t it be asked? I think I do a good job of not having any angst with the media.”