March 22 2013 07:13AM
The Oilers post-1990 have been long on promise and short on delivery. The career of Doug Weight as an Oiler shines like a diamond to this day. He was a valued member of the team from the day he arrived, and the years that have passed since he left Edmonton cannot distance our memory of his brilliance and skills. Doug Weight is a true Oiler legend.
NOT YOUR ORDINARY SKILL PLAYER
Doug Weight was not a big player, but he was gritty and could handle himself. Later in his career Weight would show courage and a temper (remember his reaction to the filthy hit by Marchment?) against all comers, and that willingness to respond to challenges earned him space on the ice and room to maneuver.
Doug Weight arrived during the period when Glen Sather was unloading legends. The period of transition saw Oiler fans say goodbye to Hall of Famers and impact players, and hello to the future. This NYT story sets the scene for the Weight deal:
- Esa Tikkanen did not have to move his skates and his sticks very far. Neither did Doug Weight. A few hours before the Rangers played the Edmonton Oilers last night, Rangers President and General Manager Neil Smith announced that he had traded Weight, a 22-year-old center, to the Oilers for Tikkanen, a gritty player with four Stanley Cup victories to his credit. Weight moved his things, and a heavy heart, to the visitors' dressing room at Madison Square Garden. Tikkanen brought his belongings and an ever-present grin to the home hallway, where he chatted cheerily with his new teammates while working on his sticks. Once the game started, though, neither Tikkanen nor Weight made the difference. This one was about Bill Ranford, who had the greatest goaltending performance the Rangers have seen from an opponent this year. Ranford stopped an amazing 56 shots. He stuffed Mike Gartner on a breakaway in the closing seconds of regulation in a tie game. And he almost singlehandedly stole what once appeared to be a sure Rangers victory, handcuffing New York down the stretch as his teammates rebounded for a 4-3 triumph in overtime. Craig MacTavish scored 32 seconds into the extra period to give Edmonton the victory. An Important Victory
Former Oilers PR man Bryn Griffiths tells the story about Weight being dealt so quickly, he didn't have a chance to talk to his wife. They made eye contact while he stood on the ice for the anthem as an Oiler, and she stood in the stands with the Rangers wives: she scanned the Ranger starters, then the Ranger bench for signs of #39. Toward the end of the anthem their eyes met, and that's how Mrs. Weight found out about the trade!
Doug Weight had an enormous range of skills. Elite passer--his saucer passes were golden--expert puck handler, accurate shooter, creative, tough, gritty--Weight was a rare "complete" player for the Oilers during the period in club history (1991-2000) when the draft betrayed them and Sather had to look elsewhere for impact players.
During the period Weight played in Edmonton, there was no question about the #1 line. Weight--often with Ryan Smyth and Bill Guerin--had tremendous pressure to perform offensively every night. And he delivered. In 558 regular season games with the Oilers, Doug Weight scored 157 goals and 420 assists--over 1 point per game.
In a fine article by Terry Jones in the spring of 2011, Weight looked back on his career and some of his highlights:
- "It was my second year of being captain. We were struggling maybe five points out of a playoff spot. I held a 10 minute meeting on the ice. I was never the type of leader that was comfortable calling people out and I'm still not. I really challenged about seven or eight guys and I ended by really challenging myself. I'm proud of that moment, looking back, because we had 10 straight wins or something like that. We tied a record with the Oilers of the early 80s and making the playoffs. It was an amazing stretch for me to be a part of, to be a leader. I feel pretty proud about that. As an individual you never talk about those things and I've never actually talked about that with anybody until now."
- 1 Stanley Cup (2006)
- King Clancy Memorial Trophy (2011)
- All Star Game: 1996, 1998, 2001, 2003
- Olympic Silver Medal (2002, USA)
A crafty, offensive forward, Doug Weight has received numerous accolades for his grit and leadership. After a solid beginning with the New York Rangers, his career blossomed in Edmonton, where he became a key component in the resurgence of that club's fortunes.
In 1992-93, Weight was enjoying a more productive season, but the Rangers were fading in the standings. In an attempt to shake up the team, the promising Weight was dealt to Edmonton in return for veteran Esa Tikkanen. In 1993-94 Tikkanen helped the Rangers win the Stanley Cup, but Weight pleased the Oilers' officials by scoring 74 points and becoming an enthusiastic leader on an improving team.
By 1995-96, Weight was a top offensive performer and recorded his first 100-point season. He and captain Kelly Buchberger were key reasons behind the Oilers' return to the playoffs in 1996-97. They upset the heavily favored Dallas Stars in the first round before bowing to the Colorado Avalanche in five games in the conference semifinals.
The next year Weight scored 70 points in 78 games and was part of the United States contingent at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. The Oilers got revenge on Colorado and knocked the Avs out in the opening round of the playoffs before Dallas gained retribution of its own in five games over Edmonton in the next round. By this time, Weight was entrenched as a crowd favorite in Edmonton because he played hard and he came to the rink every night to give his all.
Early in the 1998-99 season, the gritty forward suffered a serious knee injury that limited him to only 43 games. Weight was named the 10th captain in Oilers' history prior to the 1999-00 season. He scored 72 points in 77 games and helped the team reach the playoffs for the fourth straight year. And he tried to play through injuries when the team lost to the defending Stanley Cup champion Dallas Stars in the first round.