The former St. Louis Blues center returned to the Gateway City on Wednesday in his new role as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders, in advance of Thursday night’s game at Scottrade Center.
The memories just come flooding back for the 42-year-old. He spent parts of six seasons (beginning in 2001-02 and ending in 2007-08) wearing the Blue Note, and while he said he doesn’t have any regrets, he can’t help but wonder what might have been.
“If there is any regret, it’s here because I think we were good enough to go further,” Weight said. “We had some teams that had our number and we had a couple really great opportunities. You know, 2003 is something that haunts me, having that lead on Vancouver and really having the West open up. Taking nothing away from Minnesota and Anaheim, that would have been our road to the Stanley Cup. That eats (away at me). Obviously, we had trouble beating that red-and-white team down the road.”
There are so many memories.
Some good. Some not so good.
But being back in St. Louis brings them back, nonetheless.
Weight said he still sees guys like Barret Jackman and Kelly Chase in the summer. He saw Keith Tkachuk on Wednesday night. He played with guys like David Backes and Roman Polak.
He won a Stanley Cup in 2006 after the Blues traded him to the Carolina Hurricanes, but he knows he was close during his time here. The Blues have a long and proud tradition but so far are missing that ever-elusive Cup.
“I was here a long time,” Weight said. “I just wish we would have been able to take it a bit further. It’s such a great sports town. The fans are so good. We had a couple really good teams in this decade here. That’s the only thing. We were close. And I think we were closer than people thought.”
Weight, who retired in May 2011 after playing 1,238 NHL games, is now in his third season as a senior adviser to the general manager and has returned to ice level as an assistant coach.
So Weight works with Islanders general manager Garth Snow as well as coach Jack Capuano.
“I get to be on both sides of the fence,” he said. “I get to coach and a lot of these guys I know, and I get to sit in the office with Garth and help him build the team. I’m learning a lot and working with great people. Jack is a great coach and empowers me and Garth does the same. We’re striving to get better. We’re not where we want, but we’re close. It’s fun to come to work every day and try to win.”
He said he never thought he’d get into coaching but has enjoyed it.
It’s been a new challenge for a guy who had 278 career goals and 1,033 points during a long playing career that started with the 1991-92 season and finished with the 2010-11 season.
After a long career spent trying to win games as a player, he’s now doing the same as an assistant coach and a front-office member.
“There’s nothing like playing,” Weight said. “There’s nothing like having the fuel and the day of the game having that butterfly in your stomach, whether it’s the 1,000th game or your first. But I’m working with good people and I believe in what we’re doing and it’s the next-best thing. You’re around the game you love.”
The game has been good to him. He knows that. He’s been blessed.
Weight was a Stanley Cup champion, a three-time Olympian and a four-time All-Star and earned another accolade this week when he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in his hometown.
“It was real special being able to do it in Detroit,” he said. “Certainly, going in with the class I went in with where I won my Stanley Cup with Mr. (Peter) Karmanos, who I grew up playing against, and Ron Mason and, of course, Billy (Guerin) and Cindy (Curley). It was a great time (with) all my family and friends. It was a good culmination. It was good. It was fun.”
It was also a time for reflection.
“You grow up trying to get to the next year and be a good player and try to get to college, and then I just wanted to make the New York Rangers,” Weight said. “Looking back after 20 years, I was very fortunate and enjoyed every minute. And it went by a little too quick for me.”
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.