Doug Weight retires after 19 seasons

Doug Weight had been preparing himself for this moment for a while now.

But right before he was about to give his retirement speech, the New York Islanders began playing a tribute video, which chronicled the indelible moments during Weight's 20-year NHL playing career.

And that's when Weight lost it.

"My emotions came out," Weight, who officially announced that he was hanging up his skates and retiring on Thursday morning in Uniondale, N.Y., told ESPN NewYork.com. "You have your family and your children there and everyone's crying. [My emotions] got the best of me more times than not. And each time I began talking about a different chapter of my career it brought back memories, and as you get ready for the next chapter in your life it's tough.

"Hockey is the greatest game. I love it, and it's a huge part of my life. You're forced to say goodbye really, [and] even though it's the right decision, it goes by fast and to know that I'll never go out of the tunnel or play in the playoffs [again], and that feeling of camaraderie, it's just an emotional time.

"I'm an emotional guy and I knew I'd have a little problem, but it was a tough day and I look forward to moving forward with the rest of my life."

The 40-year-old center played just 107 games during the final three seasons of his career -- all with the Islanders -- because of a back injury. In 2010-11, the Islanders captain appeared in just 18 games, ultimately finishing out the season behind the bench. Weight will remain in that role, serving as an assistant under coach Jack Capuano, while also serving as a special advisor to general manager Garth Snow.

"His playing career speaks for itself," Snow said. "Doug's demeanor, his personality, the character of the man, he has a lot to offer our organization and me on different levels. He can be hands-on with the players as an assistant coach or with me on personnel decisions."

Weight was flanked at Thursday's announcement by Snow and Islanders owner Charles Wang. Also attending the news conference at a hotel behind Nassau Coliseum were family, friends and former teammates such as Bill Guerin.

Weight said he initially wanted to take some time off, but Snow urged him to stay with the organization and share his wisdom and experience with the younger players.

"It's going to be an easy transition for me," said Weight, who will run the team's power play at practices. "I'll be at every game and will feed off their energy. I am not worried about the dynamic at all. To assist Garth and learn from Garth, his focus and drive and work ethic is incredible.

"I'm going to be very passionate about what I do. I believe in this franchise and believe that it deserves respectability. And at the same time, I'm going to be able to spend a lot of time at home [in Long Island]."

Weight has served as a mentor to 2009 No. 1 overall pick John Tavares, the Islanders' franchise player who has spent two seasons in the NHL. Tavares and forward Matt Moulson lived with Weight's family during his rookie season before getting his own place.

Weight wound up appearing in 1,238 regular season NHL games with six teams, scoring 278 goals. He currently ranks 40th all-time in assists (748) and 65th in points (1,033). The Detroit native was a four-time All-Star, and won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

He also won a sliver medal with Team USA in 2002, and was part of the 1996 World Cup squad that beat Canada in back-to-back elimination games to capture the championship.

"What they did in 1980 was a miracle, but '96 really created a buzz in hockey," Weight said. "I'll never forget beating Canada at the Molson Center [in Montreal] and shaking their hands. That was definitely No. 1 for me."

Weight was selected by the New York Rangers in the second round (34th overall) of the 1990 NHL entry draft. He was eventually traded to the Edmonton Oilers, before stints with the St. Louis Blues, Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks and the Islanders.

Weight, who ranks sixth in career points among American-born players, will work with NHL Network during the upcoming Stanley Cup finals.

Although Weight wasn't sure what jersey he'd wear if he were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, he certainly had many of his fondest memories in Edmonton.

"When I got traded to the Oilers from New York, I thought it was one of the scariest moments of my life," said Weight, who spent parts of nine seasons with the Oilers, posting a career-best 104 points there in 1995-96. "But it turned out to be the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my career. I played my best hockey there."

Weight was traded by the Blues in 2007 to Anaheim and then signed with the Islanders the following summer. He joined longtime friend and fellow American star Guerin, who was New York's captain at the time.

The reunion was short as Guerin was traded to Pittsburgh in March 2009 during their first season together.

Weight was named the 12th captain in Islanders' history on Oct. 2, 2009, but nerve damage in his back kept him off the ice for most of his tenure there. He netted just nine points this season, before ultimately deciding it was time to call it a career.

"I knew the writing was on the wall and it was something I was going to have to face," said Weight, who paused several times during his speech to wipe his eyes, regain his composure and take sips of water. "As sad as it is, I am very excited and fulfilled with my career. You can't have regrets. I just wish I was healthy."

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.