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Gomez latest ex-player to join Isles staff

Two-time Stanley Cup champion with Devils hired by weight

May 31, 2017 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Scott Gomez won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Devils. Now, he hopes to help the Islanders capture their first NHL title since the halcyon days of the 1980s as one of head coach Doug Weight’s new assistants. AP Photo by Marcia Jose Sanchez
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Doug Weight isn’t ready to describe himself as a player’s coach just yet.

But the Islanders’ new full-time head man does appear to have a preference for coaches who were highly decorated former players.

For the second time this month, Weight turned to the talents of an NHL veteran to fill out his assistant coaching staff, hiring bench neophyte Scott Gomez Tuesday, just two weeks after bringing former Edmonton teammate Luke Richardson to Downtown Brooklyn.

“Scott brings an immense amount of hockey knowledge to our coaching staff,” Weight said of Gomez, who raised two Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils during a 16-year NHL career that also included stints with the Rangers and Montreal Canadiens.

“His offensive instincts, expertise on the power-play and the way he could control the game with his skating and smarts, are all key elements that we want implemented into our group,” Weight added.

Weight guided the Isles to a furious 24-12-4 finish after taking over on an interim basis for fired head coach Jack Capuano last season.

Though New York fell a single point shy of securing its third consecutive postseason berth, general manager Garth Snow anointed him the team’s 19th full-time head coach shortly after the campaign.

Since taking over the reins of the franchise, Weight has hired Richardson, a long-time standout defenseman, and Gomez, who retired the season before last after earning a pair of All-Star berths and winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s Rookie of the Year during his distinguished career.

Though Weight and Gomez never played together in the NHL, they did spend some time as teammates for Team USA during the 2004 World Cup and 2006 Winter Olympics.

“We’re friends, but that has nothing to do with it,” Gomez said of his hiring after a brief stint working as a television analyst. “The guy has always been so great to me throughout my career, it kind of got my juices flowing even more when I got the opportunity to be with him. I’ll be giving it my all, that’s for sure.

“[Gomez] played in the league as recently as the 2015-16 season so he can relate to today’s NHL player in an effort to bring out the best in each member of the team,” Weight added.

Gomez, who registered 181 goals and 575 assists in over 1,000 career games, seemed to save his best for when it mattered most during his playing days, amassing 101 points in 149 Stanley Cup playoff games.

The Islanders, who are still chasing their first Cup since the halcyon days of the 1980s on Long Island, should benefit greatly from having a tried-and-true champion alongside them on the bench in 2017-18.

Even if there is still a small generation gap between him and some of the Isles’ young, budding stars.

“These kids are a different age, it’s a different era,” the 37-year-old rookie coach admitted on the team’s web site Wednesday morning.

“Playing 16 years you saw that some guys they didn’t care about the fourth-line guys, or the third-line guys and that’s just not the way it should be… You need everyone to win a Stanley Cup and every guy from the top guy to the bottom guy has something to prove, has something to work on in their game and I’m there to show them and help them out. That’s where it’s at now.”

Where the Isles are at as a franchise here in Brooklyn remains in the air.

With a team opt-out available to the Isles in their contract with the Barclays Center following next season, and the arena holding the same option after the 2018-19 campaign, the Isles may not be long for Brooklyn.

There is already serious talk about an arena being built for the team in Belmont, N.Y., and Willets Point in Queens has also been brought up as a possible landing spot for the franchise.

But for now, the Isles are locked into Barclays for the upcoming campaign, and Gomez, for one, is looking forward to competing for the only one of the tri-state area hockey teams he didn’t lace them up with during his NHL playing days.

“They can definitely make noise in the East,” Gomez said of the Isles.

“It’s a good solid group and one point away from the playoffs last year, but that’s a playoff team” he added. “There’s a lot of young talent and I’m looking forward to getting on the ice with them and trying to improve their game. That’s the main goal, to make these guys better.”

And helping his new boss look better, as well.

“Whatever Dougie needs, that’s my goal and that’s the main goal from all our coaching staff is to make Dougie Weight look great,” Gomez said.

Isle Have Another: Now that the Nassau Coliseum has been renovated and refurbished, thanks to former Nets owner Bruce Ratner’s development company, Long Islanders were looking forward to seeing the Islanders play four regular-season games and two exhibitions at the new “Old Barn” next season, as per terms of the franchise’s original pact with the Barclays Center. However, the New York Post reported Wednesday that NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly issued an e-mail to the paper declaring that those obligations would not be met next season, meaning New York will play all 41 of its home games here in Brooklyn in 2017-18.

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