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Weight continues to build Islanders coaching staff

Adds NHL Veterans Buchberger and Brathwaite to Isles’ Bench

July 12, 2017 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Kelly Buchberger frequently found himself right in the middle of the action during an 18-year NHL playing career. Now he will be one of Islander head coach Dough Weight’s trusted assistants on the New York bench. AP Photo by Tom Pidgeon
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Islanders head coach Doug Weight believes in having proven NHL veterans on his coaching staff.

“I want good people that want to work and have a passion to win. We want everything that’s good around our team,” Weight said after being named the 19th head coach in Islanders history back in April.

“I think we need to improve in certain areas, that’s a focus. No matter who comes in and whether it’s one, two, five, we want people with passion that want to be part of this team.”

He added a couple of more coaches to New York’s bench this week, hiring Kelly Buchberger as an assistant and Fred Brathwaite as the team’s new goaltending guru.

Weight, who has completely transformed the Isles’ support staff this summer, previously bringing in former Oilers teammate Luke Richardson and ex-Devils center Scott Gomez, has emphasized the importance of bringing in coaches who have actually played and thrived in the NHL.

Buchberger certainly fits that profile.

“Kelly adds years and years of NHL coaching and management experience to our staff,” Weight said of Buchberger, who served as Vice President of Player Development for Edmonton last season after spending the previous two years as the club’s manager of player personnel.

“He is a tireless worker who commands respect behind the bench and in the locker room. I’m thrilled to welcome him to the organization.” 

The 50-year-old Saskatchewan native also spent six seasons as an assistant with the Oilers from 2008-2014. He served one season as head coach of Edmonton’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Springield Falcons. 

During his 18 NHL seasons as a player, Buchberger scored 309 points (105 goals, 104 assists) in 1,182 regular season games in a career that began during the 1987 Stanley Cup playoffs with the Oilers and concluded in 2003-04 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Buchberger was named the Oilers’ ninth captain in 1995-96 and served in that capacity for four seasons. He won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers in 1987 and 1990.

Brathwaite has worked as the goaltending coach for Hockey Canada with its Under-18 team for the last three seasons.

Prior to that, he held the same role with Canada’s Under-20 team, as well as with his former club, Adler Mannheim of the German Professional League, during the 2013-14 season. 

“Fred’s experiences at just about every level of hockey make him a tremendous addition to our hockey club,” Weight said.

“Not only has he had a solid NHL career, but he’s also worked with some of the top net-minder’s coming out of Hockey Canada. He’s ready for this next step and we look forward to him working with our organization’s goalies.”

During nine NHL seasons as a player, Brathwaite played in 254 games and posted an 81-99-37 record with a cumulative 2.73 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage.

Brathwaite came into the league with the Oilers and went on to play games with the Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Aside from Gomez, the three other assistant coaching hires Weight has made this season have all had previous ties to his former organization in Edmonton.

Brathwaite, a 44-year-old Ottawa native, will get right to work with the newest Isles’ goalie, Kristers Gudlevskis, who was signed to a one-year, two-way (NHL/AHL) deal earlier this week.

New York had acquired Gudlevskis from the Tampa Bay Lightning on July 1 in exchange for forward Carter Verhaeghe.

Gudlevskis, 24, posted a 15-10-7-4 (W-L-OTL-SOL) record last season with a 2.65 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage in 37 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.

The Aizkraukle, Latvia, native also appeared in one National Hockey League game last season with the Lightning. 

* * *

After going 0-for-4 in restricted free agency the past two summers, Nets general manager Sean Marks missed out on a free agent of the unrestricted variety on Wednesday.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope reportedly has agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal to join the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2017-18 season, turning his back on a potential multi-year deal from Brooklyn, and other potential suitors, in the hopes that he can actually make more in free agency next summer.

Marks had signed restricted free agent Otto Porter Jr. of Washington to a $106 million offer sheet earlier this month, only to see the Wizards match the money and retain their player.

Last year, Marks lost out on Portland’s Allen Crabbe, Miami’s Tyler Johnson and Houston’s Donatas Motiejunas in the same fashion.

The Nets, who finished with the NBA’s worst record last season at 21-61, still have nearly $20 million in cap space remaining to seek more free-agent talent this summer.

Marks did pull off a pair of solid deals this offseason, bringing in 21-year-old guard D’Angelo Russell, along with veteran center Timofey Mozgov, for all-time Net Brook Lopez. He also recently acquired Toronto forward DeMarre Carroll and a pair of future draft picks for forward Justin Hamilton.


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