New York Post


- Steve.serby@

Islanderst­akes a timeout coach for Doug some Weight Q&A withof the The Isles’ Post’s season Steve opener Serby Friday. ahead Q: Are you driven to make the Islanders not The Other Hockey Team in New York? A: Yeah, of course. Like, the Rangers are the Rangers, right? And the Yankees are the Yankees. The Mets could win two straight titles, and the Yankees are still gonna be the Yankees. My dream would be to meet them in the third round every year. I think it’d be the greatest thing for this city. I love the Rangers. I started my career with that jersey on. Listen, we play ’em, I have just as much hate for them as our players, right? It’s a great rivalry. That’s what’s fun about sports. You dig in. Q: What do you like best about your team? A: I just like the evolution of our team. We’ve been together a long time. We’ve got some new faces. We’re gonna be faster than we’ve been. We’re gonna be more skilled than we’ve been. Our focus, that’s not going away, but we can’t lose that grit, that ability to pour four lines on teams, which we have. We have great depth, we have good speed and good pace to our game, and we have great goaltendin­g and great “D.” I think we’re underappre­ciated in those regards. It’s up to us to prove that. Q: The qualities that you look for in a hockey player? A: It’s team-first, it’s team togetherne­ss, the room’s gotta be tight, so I look at guys that want to be a great teammate. If you have the “C” or the “A” or whatever, you work as hard as you can in practice, you lead that way, and you make the guys follow you. And also having fun. Just good teammates. It’s just that extra added 10 percent that you see those players work extra on things. I just am attracted to that kind of person. Q: What do you admire most about John Tavares? A: Obviously, he’s got this crazy skill. I think his drive has built his career to this point. He was a phenom. But all the talk was ... “He just can’t move well enough ... he’s gonna be one of the best players in the world below the hash.” After every year, he’d go home and work with skating coaches, strengthen his body. His drive to be great — every year he goes home, he says, “I’m gonna score more this year,” then he scores 35 and he only (scored) 20 the year before, then he’s gonna work on this part of his game. I think you see all those great players do that. Q: What was he like when he stayed at your house as a rookie? A: He was quiet at first, and then he liked being around the kids. We’d be watching a game and he’d make me pause it and talk about, “We’re playing them next week.” And I’m 37, and I’m like, “Johnny, I just want to watch the game, all right?” I loosened him up, I hope, a littllittl­e. It was greatt ffor our My kids, they still love John. He was there two years, and I hope it helped him being 18, being able to have home-cooked meals, having that family atmosphere. Q: Do you think you’re a good motivator, and how do you lead? A: I do. I think the guys know I’m here for two reasons — I care about them and love the game and want to win again. If I gotta get on ’em, I’ll get on ’em. If I gotta sit ’em on the bench, I’ll sit ’em on the bench, and the next day we’ll talk. Communicat­ion, look ’em in the eye, tell ’em how it is. This young group of people we have in this world, there’s tact involved, there’s a different way to handle each person, and you gotta do it on a regular basis, so it’s a tough job. It takes a lot of time. But if they know when they leave the room — they can still be pissed — but they know that we just talked, I listened to them and they listened to me, and the next day, it’s over, and we start anew. Q: As a head coach, what won’t you tolerate? A: I won’t tolerate those poor practice habits or guys behind the scene trying to clique teams, trying to drag people’s energy. I don’t like zapping energy. I don’t like negativity — from our coaches on down. Everybody had warts. We gotta make these guys better. We have to be a positive machinehi andd streamt it ththrough h our team. If you’re gonna keep doing things that aren’t feeding the team’s energy and feeding the team’s success, you’re gonna hear about it in front of the players. You have to handle players differentl­y, but you have to have rules in place. And they also have the understand­ing that some players are different than others, and they’re gonna have a little more rope. But that accountabi­lity’s gotta be there for you. Q: Leaders you admire? A: It’s a difficult question because unless you’re in a battle or in a sport or in a room with people, it’s awful tough to talk about how great of a leader they are. ... I’ve never met Peyton Manning, but on the field, he was just an amazing leader. ... John ( Tavares) is a very quiet guy, but he’s learned that sometimes you have to look across the room and see somebody having trouble and help him or challenge him

if they’re ddoingi somethingt­hi tto hhurtt your group. I’ve played with Mess (Mark Messier). He was a guy that went out and played fiercely, so that was leadership. Q: Coaches in other sports you admire? A: How do you not be attracted to Bill Belichick and Gregg Popovich? You want to sponge something off ’em and find out how they do it. Q: Favorite quotes? A: Mine was always: “Character’s how hard you work when no one’s watching.” Q: A scouting report on Doug Weight the player? A: My biggest strength was my vision and I think my competitiv­eness that went with it. Q: What was it like lifting the Cup (2006 Hurricanes) with a separated shoulder? A: Believe it or not, I didn’t feel much. I had about 60 ccs in my shoulder, and I had some adrenaline (smile). I thought I had it all the way up, and then I see the picture and it was about this high. ... I swear I thought it was all the way over my head. It was pretty numb. It was quite amazing having my family on the ice. Q: You spent most of Game 7 in the locker room? A: I just kinda slowly got dressed and walked around the room and watched the clock. Q: Why were you doing that? A: I just couldn’t watch. And I knew we were gonna win, so I was getting my equipment on, then I wet my hair down and rubbed stuff on my stick. I wanted to make it look like I played. And I was on the bench with a minute left. I was next to everybody jumping around, and I hhad already gotten my shoulder shotsh up so I was fine. Q: The night the Rangers tradedtr you to visiting Edmontonto for Esa Tikkanen at the Garden in 1993? A: I was traded at 4 o’clock. They putpu all my (stuff) in a shopping cartca and all Tikk’s, and they took a picturepi of me and Tikk, and Tikk high-fivinghi me on the way by in theth hallway. I was going to the Oilers room. He was going to the Ranger room. Q: Favorite Olympic memory? A: The ’02 Olympics in Salt Lake, just after 9/11, the vibe in that building was something I’ve never experience­d. Very patriotic feeling, different feeling than any other big game, even the World Cup. We were being challenged, and everybody there was so patriotic. We played Russia two straight games, probably the best two games I’ve ever been a part of. ... We were spent. ... Winning a silver medal there, I’m very proud of it. Q: Athletes in other sports you admire? A: Tom Brady. LeBron James. Q: You wore braces on your legs at 2 years old? A: I don’t remember it, but I guess I was just a big, bull-legged fat kid (smile). It was probably a little over a year and change I had to wear ’em and straighten­ed me out, and then my dad got me on the ice right away after I got ’em off. He was just obsessed with hockey. He coached me until I was 16, but he would coach three or four teams a year. I was an inner-city Detroit kid, so I didn’t do much playing outside. Q: Were you a fan of the other Detroit teams? A: Every Tiger game that was on, I would watch at my grandmothe­r’s house with her. I watched them in ’84 when they won. I was a big Piston fan in the early ’90s, when they had all those battles and they won two straight ... the Bad Boys. Q: Favorite Lions player? A: Used to love Anthony Carter, and I used to love U of M football. It’s ironic you ask that because (on Thursday) we (had) Chris Spielman (come) to talk to us. I just thought it was a perfect fit. His determinat­ion — he was known for his practice habits — and then to retire in the middle of his career that he worked so hard to get to just to support his wife during her sickness and (breast cancer) battle. Q: Boyhood idol? A: Most hockey players had 99 (Wayne Gretzky) and 66 (Mario Lemieux) on their radar. At the age of 13, I was from Detroit, so Stevie Yzerman came into the league and became an immedi

ate favorite.

 ??  ?? N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States