Edmonton Journal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on November 27, 1997 · 39
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Edmonton Journal from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada · 39

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Thursday, November 27, 1997
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39
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The Edmonton Journal, Thursday, November 27, 1997 D3 Oilers Weight ctoes his daddy proyd Father behind every step of Oiler star's climb to NHL Battle goes on as Lowe tries to come back Stories by Robin Brownlee Journal Hockey Writer Edmonton Sometimes, just being there means more than words can express. Doug Weight Sr., who was a pretty decent hockey player in his day until an eye injury as a teenager ended his career, has always understood that. When his son took his first few tentative steps on skates as a boy in Warren, Mich., he cheered him on. When he played his first U.S. college game, with Lake Superior State, Weight Sr. was in the stands. When his boy, all grown up, made his NHL debut with the New York Rangers, the old man was there. No surprise, then, that when Doug Weight of the Edmonton Oilers tallied his 400th NHL point against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, his dad was leading the applause. "I'm not that big on milestones. I'm proud of him anyway," said Weight Sr., who is in town on vacation. "He's worked hard to get this far, to be in the position to score 400 points. That's the satisfying part" Weight Sr., 50, had plenty of time to talk about his son's milestone in the Oilers' dressing room Wednesday He hadn't planned it that way but he didn't really have a choice. Not far away, oblivious to the conversation, stood Matthew Bendoritis, a wide-eyed boy on crutches, talking to his hero and forgetting, for the moment, about an operation he faces to save his leg from cancer. It became obvious after 20 minutes or so, the old man and the interview would have to wait. And that Doug Weight has learned his father's lessons well. "Four hundred points is one thing, then there's life," said Weight. "Talking to a little guy like that, he's the amazing one. He's all upbeat, happy, laughing. It makes you wonder about how we, as players, get down when we're not going good." Weight, 26, has 400 points in the NHL today because Weight Sr. always took the time to care. Bendoritis left Edmonton Coliseum beaming Wednesday because No. 39, who's lent his name, money and time to making the city he plays hockey in a better place, chooses to do likewise. "Milestones are the kinds of things you can look back on some day and be proud of," Weight said. "At the same time, when you talk to a little kid with cancer who says he wants to become a hockey player just like you, there's a perspective." When Weight was knee-high, he'd play hockey in the kitchen with his dad using a Detroit Red Wings' souvenir mini-stick and a ping pong ball. "Whatever he did, he had that ping pong ball and the little stick," Weight Sr. said. "I was an NHLer," Weight said. "I'd pretend I was Stevie Yzerman and I'd make my dad play goal. Arnie's mouth gets Journal Staff Edmonton Jason Arnott flashed a toothy grin Wednesday, then strapped on Curtis Joseph's mask and hit the ice. Arnott, spitting slivers and enamel Tuesday the final count was four lost teeth and caps courtesy of a high stick by Chicago Blackhawks' Christian LaFlamme won't be modelling Cujo's cage long-term, however. But, with his dental work back in place, Arnott decided he'd better tend the twine at the morning skate. It's safer back there. "It's sore," Arnott said. "Anybody who has had a root canal done, anything with nerves when you let the cold air at it, or drink water, it kills. "Not to mention getting the stick in the face ... I just bit my lip and kept playing." Arnott, 23, had his teeth and caps put back in place by the team dentist after Tuesday's 2-2 tie with the Blackhawks, though he'll need more work. He has opted, for now at least not to go with a partial plate the dentistry- No tougher In sports, as at drive-ins, there are no long-term relationships. Dave Siciliano knew this when he came west from Thunder Bay to coach the Edmonton Ice. And he realizes it even more now, as he takes over the Owen Sound Platers of the Ontario Hockey League, just a month after being fired by the Ice. "Some friends who are coaches called me and said, 'Welcome to the fraternity. You've been fired,' " he said from the Platers' office Wednesday Siciliano left town on a sombre note last month, taking his firing like a man and moving on. He moped around some for a while, until the day three job offers came over the phone. One after another. One was from Owen Sound, and the other two from the Western Professional Hockey League. The fact that people out there still think he can coach made him even more disappointed that the people in Edmonton had decided that he couldn't, anymore. it . . vj Doug Weight Sr. has followed every step Weight File Name: Doug Weight Age: 26 Hometown: Warren, Mich. By The Numbers Weight counted his 400th career point in the NHL with an assist on Ryan Smyth's goal in a 2-2 tie with the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday. In his 332 games with Edmonton, Weight has tallied 330 points with 88 goals and 242 assists. A Proud Papa Doug Weight Sr., who attended his son's first college game at Lake Superior in 1989-90 and his first NHL game with the New York Rangers in 1 990-91 , was at Edmonton Coliseum for the 400-point milestone Tuesday. "I would always trying to shoot it upstairs on him, and I'd shoot at my mom's shins. I was a terror." Weight Sr. concocted all manner of drills and oddball gadgets to help his son hone his skills. Like a box with flaps on it that he'd put on the end of a stick at practice players had to feather passes into the box as Weight Sr. skated by "I thought Doug had a good chance to make it all along, so we worked on the skills," Weight Sr. said. "It was a matter of if he was going to have the size, if he'd be big enough, Brian Gavriloff, The Journal Jason (The Goalie) Arnott by-Sherwood look favoured by pal Bryan Marchment, who cracked a gappy smile for the scribes surrounding Arnott in the dressing room. "They've all been out before," said Arnott. "They're all caps, all bridged C coaching than with expansion franchise "I kind of thought we were going to be patient, and develop the talent so that come year three, four and five we could reap more of the benefits," Siciliano said of the Ice game plan. "I was a little shocked, there's no doubt. I mean, I knew the record, but I thought we were on the same wavelength as far as longer-term development. The next day you kind of get angry it's like a death or something. "You get a little bitter, as you think about it As times goes on, I'm grateful I had the opportunity" How many coaches last four or five years anywhere, let alone in the WHL? And besides, when he was fired by the Ice on Oct. 24, his record was 0-9-1. When hired by the Platers Tuesday, he inherited a record of 9-12-1. Nine wins in a month? Siciliano never would have pulled that off had he stayed in Edmonton, though he still would like to have tried. "Well, I could have turned Edmonton around, over time. But it would of his son's starry hockey career all and the desire, I guess." Weight, whose 400 points include 289 assists, is today one of the NHL's best passers because of that box backhand, forehand, backhand . . . "My dad, my family sacrificed a lot," Weight said. "You dream about playing in the NHL, but you need a lot of luck and a lot of support to do it." When Weight Sr. talks about Doug's first game at Lake Superior, the pride is obvious. "All the pressure on him was unbelievable," Weight Sr. said. "It was against Michigan State, ranked No. 1. "His first shift, he's the lone point man on the power play. A freshman against the top team. He handled it" And there was the 1990 entry draft, when the Rangers selected Weight in the second round, 34th overall The 1993 trade to Edmonton for Esa Tikkanen, a 104-point season in 1993-94, an NHL all-star selection, the U.S. upset win over Canada in the World Cup, Weight's chance to play for the US. at the Nagano Olympics . . . Then, Tuesday night "The highlights of my life," Weight Sr. said. "I don't know where Doug got the talent it sure didn't come from me. Dougie made the commitment, I tried to help out. "You can't have a better feeling, I don't think. Even the bad games are invigorating ... all the ups and the downs, as long as you're there." Yes, there was one proud father and an overhaul together. "When I got hit, they all cracked and split. The dentist came in and worked his magic, put them together, stuck 'em back in there ... I'm going to look like Mushsooa" While Arnott can't match Marchment as far as old-time hockey mugs go Mush also sports the Bobby Hull banana blade nose it's close. Arnott's still got a scar over his eyebrow from a Jiri Slegr slapper two seasons back. Now, the teeth, again. No question, though, Arnott's old-time tough. Because he didn't miss a shift, there was some talk he'd taken a dive until Chicago's Jeff Hackett retrieved the wayward choppers. "Somebody asked me after if I was just going for a penalty then they saw the replay and Hackett picking up my teeth," Arnott said. Rookie Mike Watt relayed Arnott's buckies back to the Edmonton bench after Hackett called him over. "I saw him pushing something into his glove. Then, he starts waving me over," said Watt. "He said, 'Here, here, here.' I said, 'What is it?' He says, 'It's teeth.' I said, j j j ipi. j J Mark ji iJ Spector I Sports j Comment have been a few years." A few years is an eternity for a junior hockey coach. Look at George Burnett one day he's in the OHL at Niagara Falls, the next Cape Breton, then the NHL... Now he's back in the OHL and coaching against Siciliano. All, seemingly, in "a few years." "I certainly thought we were a better team (this season)," he said. "But better than 14 wins the year before doesn't make you good, it just makes you slightly better. Maybe some people can do it quicker, I don't know. Maybe I just didn't do it quickly enough." He did what any expansion coach Photos: Brian Gavriloff, The Journal the way to the NHL and the Oilers m rv ! . j - T Matthew Bendoritis got a good look at practice from the Oiler bench one happy little boy in that dressing room Wednesday morning. A snapshot of a father and a son, of lessons learned. "That's a brave little guy," Weight said as Matthew Bendoritis made his way back to his mom. Are you kidding me?' He's says, 'No.' I said, T don't want them.' He says, 'Take them.' So, I did." Having played dental assistant on Tuesday, Watt decided to join Arnott in the cage Wednesday strapping on Bob Essensa's goal pads for the skate. "I've never handed a guy his teeth," Watt smiled. Huard Hurting Bill Huard, meanwhile, was back in the dressing room Wednesday after Monday's surgery to repair the badly-broken knuckle on his left hand. "It can happen,' said Huard, who broke the knuckle on his forefinger in a scrap with Ottawa's Chris Murray "I'll be fine. It's just kind of disappointing that I'll be out for awhile." Huard's trying to keep his sense of humour, and he'll have to. It appears like he'll be out two months. Somebody wise-cracked that Huard could get back into the lineup sooner if he simply had somebody tape his stick to his casted left hand. "What's the worst-case scenario?," Huard smiled. "I'm not going to get any points?" would do: try to give the kids enough ice time so the team can win a few down the road, while at the same time giving the veterans enough ice time so you can win a few right now and hang on to your job. That, in essence, defines an expansion coach in any league. He's brought in to teach a basic system, get a few things in place, weed out the bad players and try not to let them drag down the very few good ones. Then, after a couple years when the club has established some kind of talent base, the coach is the first to go. Under the heading: shake up. "When we started 3-0 the first year, I told management not to get too excited," Siciliano said. "When you get off to a bad start everybody starts questioning whether you're going in the right direction, or if you've got the right mix. If it happened a little bit later, and everyone had good excuses for it, I guess you'd be able to persevere." Jim Matheson Journal Hockey Writer Edmonton Kevin Lowe laughs when people say the raging virus that affected his balance might be career-ending. "What's it going to end? The final 50 games? It's not like I've got five years left," said Lowe, 38, who's finally getting his bearings after weeks of feeling sick to his stomach and dizzy Lowe might not be back on the Oiler blueline until after Christmas, which would mean 2 ft months on the shelf with an inner-ear problem that, at first, seemed run-of-the-mill stuff for a guy with a legendary pain threshhold. But, he's getting better. The dark days of October and early this month have brightened. "I haven't hit a dead-end," he said. Lowe has played with cracked ribs, a broken wrist, concussions, a bad shoulder you name it He got sick on Thanksgiving, six weeks ago. "I woke up at the hotel we were staying at in Vancouver the morning of our (holiday) game with the Canucks, went into the bathroom and stumbled into the wall. I thought I got out bed too quickly," said Lowe. He didn't feel any better on the ice a few hours later. He was light-headed but played. This didn't feel anything like the sensation he had after getting his bell rung in past years. In the last minute, maybe not thinking straight, he jabbed at GinoOdjick with his stick from the Oiler bench and got a three-game suspension. That was the least of his troubles. "I've now got a new appreciation for anybody who says they have some dizziness," said Lowe, who might have scoffed before at seeing an NHLer out with inner-ear problems. "I felt crappy the day after the game, but that often happens. But the next day, I wouldn't have made it down to the rink except that I had a hearing with Brian Burke (abojit Odjick) in Glen's (Sather) office.! I couldn't concentrate driving down. I was in Glen's office, waiting, and told him I had to lay down," said Lowe. ,''I thought it was just the flu." So what did happen to Lowe? How did the first prognosis of 2-4 weeks out drag into six and maybe into jo before he's finally back? It's just one of those mystifying things. "I caught a virus. My wife Karen may have had it, because she had similar symptoms before me. Maybe I got it from her. It (inner-ear) happens to young men a lot, often after a flu and it was in our household. My ear isn't infected; the virus just affected my balance," he said. "In the days afterward, I was having a tough time walking (never mind skating). Yeah, I guess it was like I was drunk. And driving ... I had a lot of trouble focusing. For a month, it was like you're driving and all of a sudden you're in a daze on the road. But, normally you can snap out of it. I couldn't I tried, but I couldn't It wasn't like it was blurry for me, but I had to stay in one lane." So how do you suddenly lose your balance if it's not a rap on the head in the corner. A high-stick or an elbow? "I've become somewhat of an expert on all this stuff and what it is is this: you have a balance canal in your inner ear and connected to that is a cranial nerve that runs to the brain. The cranial nerves are used hi your spinal cord, anything that carries impulses, as opposed to the ones in your leg that do the muscular thing," said Lowe. "The virus went and attacked tre cranial nerve. I'm told the only time they'll know for sure how much damage there was is if I die and have an autopsy. "Your other bodily senses your sight, your touch, and to an extent, your hearing help to compensate for weakened balance. "I'm doing therapy on those things, like sight where I'll stick my ringers apart and move my eyes back and forth but not my head. I've got to retrain and sharpen my senses." If he'd been 28 rather than 38, would his recovery have been faster? "That's the frustrating thing for me and the doctors. "But ... the way I look at it is this is just one more mountain to climb for me in my career." ' It is the lot of the expansion coach: the excellent coach who was unveiled at last year's press conference along with the new uniforms and season ticket phone number, slowly becomes flawed. .' Siciliano, they say, had lost his players' interest because he wasn't emotional enough. And management wasn't enamoured with the number of minutes given to the club's youngest players. 1 In the end, each blames the other for not sticking to the program set out at the beginning of the marriage. "People get fired and pushed around for different reasons. Terry Crisp is a pretty emotional guy, and what did it do for Tampa Bay? Terry Murray wasn't emotional enough for Philadelphia. I feel like the style I have has never worn on players." That's not what people close to the Ice say, but why would that be any different? Siciliano was an expansion coach. Ha was hired to be fired. ' i if - --i - '

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