Doug Weight’s USA Hockey Legacy

Earlier Thursday, Doug Weight officially announced his retirement after 19 seasons in the National Hockey League. He ends his career as one of the most productive U.S. forwards ever to play in the NHL. Over those 19 seasons, Weight played in 1,238 regular-season games and posted 1,033 points, including 755 assists. His 104-point season in 1995-96 was the last 100-point year for an American-born player. The Warren, Mich., native played for the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks and New York Islanders

Weight was a two-time captain in the NHL, wearing the C for the Oilers from 1999-2001 and then again with the Islanders from 2009-2011. He hoisted the Stanley Cup once, in 2006 with Carolina.

Internationally, Doug Weight was a consistent contributor to U.S. National Teams. He played in three Olympic Winter Games (1998, 2002, 2006), three IIHF World Championships, a World Junior Championship and he skated in both World Cups of Hockey (1996, 2004).

Perhaps Weight’s most memorable contribution to USA Hockey came as a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team that won the 1996 World Cup of Hockey with a pair of dramatic wins in Montreal.

Coming up after the jump, a look at Doug Weight’s career and the importance of that 1996 World Cup of Hockey team.

With Doug Weight’s retirement, and not knowing what Mike Modano’s plans are for next year,  there are just two players remaining from that vaunted 1996 World Cup team, Modano and Brian Rolston (who played in one game with Team USA in ’96).

The 1996 group, often referred to by USA Hockey in recent years as the “Old Guard,” was the best U.S. hockey team ever assembled and Weight was a big part of that club.

I mean… Look at this roster: Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch, Phil Housley, Gary Suter, Brett Hull, Jeremy Roenick, Bill Guerin, Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Pat LaFontaine, John LeClair, Tony Amonte, Mike Richter, and of course Weight.

I was 12 years old when that team won the World Cup and that was my first experience watching a U.S. hockey team win something like that. All I knew of the Miracle on Ice was the poster my dad had in our basement and the stories he told me about it. So for me, the 1996 World Cup team was the highlight of my young hockey fan life.

What those players did, against a Canadian team with an otherworldly roster, wasn’t a miracle, but it was momentous (Seriously, count the Hall of Famers on this Canadian roster).

Weight will probably never make the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he should be a first-ballot U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer. Not just for being part of that 1996 team, but for always being there when his country needed him to play and performing.

Weight had seven points in seven games at the World Cup. He also had eight career assists at the Olympics. Weight still holds the record for most point in a single World Junior Championship by an American with 19 (4-15) in 1991.

Weight and his contemporaries were the most significant group of hockey players the U.S. had produced up to that point. They paved the way in a time when there weren’t a whole bunch of Americans playing the game at the NHL level. Since the success of that group, the number of American players skating in the NHL has grown and continues to grow.

While his contributions to American hockey are hugely important to Weight’s legacy, he had a truly stellar NHL career. Anytime a player has played over 1,000 games and has over 1,000 points, they must have been doing something right.

In addition to his steady, consistent production, I always enjoyed watching Weight play. To me, he was really fun to watch and it always looked like he was having fun playing. Watch this video, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

He was one of the best set-up men a good goal scorer could ask for. It’s a big reason Ron Wilson paired Weight with Brett Hull (who scored seven goals) at the World Cup. He was a selfless distributor.

In his best statistical season, 1995-96, Weight scored 25 goals and added a whopping 79 assists for the Oilers. He posted six 20-plus goal seasons and nine 40-plus assist campaigns. In 97 playoff appearances, Weight posted 72 points. He had 16 points in Carolina’s run to the Stanley Cup.

Weight was also a phenomenal college hockey player at Lake Superior State University. He posted 69 points as a freshman and 75 as a sophomore. Those two seasons were enough for the New York Rangers to sign Weight, their second-round pick (34th overall) at the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.

Isles GM Garth Snow announced that Weight will remain with the organization as an assistant coach and assistant to the general manager. So he’s not done in the game, yet.

As a hockey fan, I will recall Weight’s career fondly. As an American hockey fan, I look back with complete reverence. He was truly one of the all-time greats among American-born players and his contributions to the game will not soon be forgotten.

I leave you with this… A condensed version of  Game 3 of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey between Team USA and Team Canada. A crowning achievement for Doug Weight, his teammates and USA Hockey.

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About Chris Peters

Editor of The United States of Hockey. Contributor to CBSSports.com, USA Hockey Magazine and more. Former USA Hockey PR guy. Current Iowan.
This entry was posted in NHL, U.S. National Teams, USA Hockey. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Doug Weight’s USA Hockey Legacy

  1. Mike Bradley says:

    Great post! I was 16 yrs-old during that World Cup win and I was amped when the U.S. won. It’s upsetting to see players I idolized as a kid hang them up, mostly because that means I’m getting old. As the few remaining U.S. playes of the “Old Guard” retire, at least I know they left USA hockey in good hands.

    As a side note, it always upset me that Roenick wasn’t a part of that 1996 World Cup team because he wasn’t under contract and didn’t want to risk injury….rubbish.

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