EDMONTON - In a new arena, playing to the cap, the next Doug Weight won't have to go away.
Consider the official retirement of Weight Thursday a reminder of a real good reason to pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins No. 1 in the draft.
The Edmonton Oilers haven't had a real No. 1 star centre since the five-foot-11 198-pound MQP (Most Quotable Player) left.
If there were two post-dynasty Edmonton Oilers players most fans wish would have played their entire careers here, one would have been Ryan Smyth and the other Doug Weight.
Upon their retirement, those two careers deserve to be celebrated here like those from the Stanley Cup winning teams.
It was obvious as Weight made his retirement official after a 19-year NHL career, that he wished he'd had that chance to do complete his career here, too.
"Looking back I would have loved to stay in Edmonton and not get traded," said Weight on a conference call after he became emotional when talking about the Oiler years of his career as part of his retirement press conference on Long Island a couple hours earlier.
Weight admits he played his best hockey here where he produced 577 points in 588 games after being traded by the New York Rangers for Esa Tikkanen. He sits sixth in Oilers history behind Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey and Glenn Anderson. In all, he played 1,238 regular season games, ending up 65th in all-time league scoring with 1,033 points and 40th with 748 assists.
Weight, who will now become an assistant coach and senior advisor to New York Islanders GM Garth Snow, knows he'll best be remembered in an Oiler uniform playing for Edmonton. And while he was sitting in an Islander environment, it was talking about his Oiler years which produced the tears.
"It was my time in Edmonton that really hit me when I started talking about the team and the city. I became very emotional," he said on the conference call.
"I realized what it meant to me and what I learned there.
"It was just a real proud time of my career.
"Quite honestly that's the best hockey I played and the most I've been challenged. I really wish that the rest of my career I could have been challenged like I was there."
He said he was missing that when he left.
"I was coming from a situation where I needed to produce every single night in Edmonton. You were going to get backlash from your team, the media and the fans. I loved it. I loved that challenge. I fed off it."
The Oilers, of course, didn't win any Stanley Cups in Weight's time with the team. It was ironic that the only Cup the Oilers' last 100-point player did win was with Carolina, when the Oilers went to the seventh game of the final in 2006 only to lose to the Hurricanes.
Weight's Oilers, however, managed to make the playoffs six straight seasons, have amazing series against Dallas every year and pull off a couple remarkable upsets.
"It doesn't sound substantial, but when you're going against teams with a payroll of $30 or $40 million more than we did, at the very least, it was an accomplishment."
He remember returning to Edmonton in the second round after giving Todd Marchant the pass to win that Game 7 against Dallas.
"Oh my gosh, it's just an unbelievable place to be successful."
There was another moment Weight reflects back on now.
"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."
Looking back touched some nerves.
"It was really, really difficult when I got traded. I remember Kevin Lowe, when we talked in the summer. He pretty much let me know and explained to me that it was going to be hard to give me what everybody was being paid. Still, when the trade happened, it was just really tough on me. I didn't look forward to anything for a while.
"I knew I was going to miss the Edmonton culture. It was hard. Edmonton was everything you could want in a city and an organization."
How come it was always those guys who had to go?
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