VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Doug Weight said he has done his best to stay positive around the Islanders during their late-winter swoon, but what about in his private moments? Is he ever tempted to throw stuff against the wall in frustration?
“We’re on our second game of a trip and I’m on my fifth [hotel] room,” Weight said before Monday night’s game against the Canucks at Rogers Arena. “I’ve done some damage.”
He was joking (presumably). But the six-game losing streak that has imperiled the Islanders’ playoff hopes is a test for the still-inexperienced coach as the organization decides where to go from here. How he navigates this could go a long way toward determining whether the Isles invite him back for 2018-19.
This is a far cry from how things went last season, when Weight succeeded Jack Capuano in midseason and led the Islanders to a 24-12-4 record, missing the playoffs by one point.
They were 29-29-8 entering Monday and tied for last place in the Metropolitan Division with the Rangers, five points behind Columbus for the second Eastern Conference playoff spot.
“You have to pick your spots,” Weight said. “You have to challenge them and teach them and learn from your mistakes, but you have to have a good environment where it’s healthy and there’s fun and a great work ethic in practice.”
Weight mostly has been pleased with the players’ approach. “I think being the coach or being on our staff, there’s moments when you show emotion with the guys and you challenge them and you need more. But you have to be positive and they have to feel you’re confident in what we’re doing, what we’re trying to achieve.
“They have to. I’ve sat in that [locker] stall where there’s times where you just know there’s not a lot of belief in the guys that are leading you, and that’s just not healthy. One thing I can tell you is it’s not an act. I do have faith in these guys and what we can do . . . It’s up to us.”
Captain John Tavares said, “Obviously, he’s still very demanding, still very challenging about what’s acceptable and unacceptable about the way we play and where we have to be better in a lot of areas.
“But certainly he wants to give guys confidence and feel good about ourselves, and usually when you feel good about yourself or you’re playing your best, you have a lot of confidence. So he’s just trying to obviously tap into that.”
To this point, much of the fans’ frustration has been aimed at general manager Garth Snow, but Weight is far from immune to criticism. If the Islanders do not recover and make a late playoff push, there will be pressure on ownership to make major changes.
“It’s disappointing that it hasn’t gone our way,” Weight said. “But we’ve still got a great job. You pull your hair out, but you have to come in [and work]. We have to win three games on the road trip . . . That’s all you can do, try to scratch yourself back in.”