Photo Credit: Rena Laverty
Danny Weight never had to look far for inspiration. The son of Doug Weight, who played 1,238 games in the National Hockey League, Danny knew from a young age what he wanted to do.
“Some of my earliest memories of the game are probably just due to my dad playing,” Weight said. “Going into the locker room with him, meeting players and seeing what you had to do to be a pro, it just gave me a desire to make the NHL too.”
Weight has seen his dad accomplish a lot since being born in 2001; Doug hoisted the Stanley Cup as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, played at two Olympic Games in 2002 and 2006, skated in his 1,000th career game November 17, 2006 and won the King Clancy Trophy as the NHL’s Leadership-Humanitarian of the year in the 2010-11 season.
Following his playing career, Doug immediately joined the New York Islanders as an assistant coach and assistant general manager. Management and coaching positions in professional sports are often met with endless criticism from the public, but Danny was easily able to let comments about his dad roll off his back.
“I was already used to it just from when he played,” he said. “People are a little harder on you when you’re a coach, so that a little different to get used to. But it was awesome to see him on TV all the time and have people ask me about him.”
Unsurprisingly, Weight’s father is the biggest influence in his career.
“Without a doubt. Whether it’s doing video, shooting pucks, skating or just being by my side,” Weight said. “He’s helped me the whole way. He’s given me so much advice and taught me how to overcome certain situations. He’s been a huge help for me.”
Danny burst onto the hockey scene in New York during his midget season in 2016-17, torching the league with 52 goals and 68 assists in 83 games with the PAL Junior Islanders. He was quick to credit his coach for his success.
“I had a great coach there, Bob Thornton, who really just helped me play through my mistakes,” he explained. “He didn’t criticize me too much, he just allowed me to play my game. We had a really good team that year and a lot of my success goes to Bob. That was kind of the start me thinking I could make the NHL one day.”
At the end of that season, Weight received his NCAA commitment to Boston College. While he got his commitment out of the way before playing junior hockey, Weight insisted it was never a rush to get finished.
“It was a really cool experience going through the college process,” he said. “You go see some schools and try to find what fits you best. Boston College was unreal, and the coaching staff were so nice. I’m really excited to be heading there in the future.”
For 2017-18 Weight made the jump to junior hockey with the United States National Development Program, which splits the season between the USHL and playing in national tournaments.
Being a 16-year-old and playing against players as old as 21, it was understandably a big jump for Weight to make.
“The first year was definitely pretty difficult,” he admitted. “Every player was older and heavier, but about halfway through the year I think I got used to the pace and as a team we played really well.”
Weight played in tournaments in Russia, the Czech Republic and Canada during his 16-year-old season. One of those tournaments was the Under-17 World Hockey Championships in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, where Team USA claimed gold.
“That was our first International tournament and the first big stage we all played on,” Weight said. “It was really fun; we dominated the whole tournament. We were lighting it up that tournament and never looked back after that.”
Team USA went 6-0 at the tournament, outscoring opponents 34-15 en route to the gold medal. Weight scored a goal and two assists at the event and couldn’t help but mention Jack Hughes’ performance as the phenom scored 15 points, three shy of the all-time tournament record.
Hughes is seen as the consensus first overall pick for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft on Friday, and Weight has had a front row seat to Hughes for the past two years. The US Development Program is stacked with talent and could see five or more players drafted into the first round on Friday.
“Those two years were such a great experience, being with all those top players,” Weight said. “Learning from them in practice and playing against the best players every day, it just makes you so much better. Everyone wants to succeed and be the best player they can be. I can’t say enough good things about The Program, it was so good development wise and I made 22 new brothers.”
Weight could also hear his name called at the draft this weekend, though he says he’s trying not to focus on it.
“If I don’t get drafted this year, I just want to have a great year to try and get drafted as high as I can next year.”
Weight had no shortage of options on where to play for the 2019-20 season; he was drafted by the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey league in 2017 and had USHL teams clamoring for his services, but a visit to Penticton sealed his decision.
“Honestly, right when I got there, I knew that’s where I wanted to go,” Weight said. “The facilities are amazing; I don’t think any other place I could go would have facilities like theirs. Fred was just great to me throughout the whole process. The team is looking really good for next year. I couldn’t be happier to come to Penticton, meet all the guys and try to make a run at a championship.”
Weight knew a fair amount about the Vees organization before coming on a visit with his dad, but he says seeing it for himself blew him away.
“I knew it was a great organization, but I didn’t know what I was walking into,” Weight laughed. “How new the rink was, how everyone in Penticton loves their hockey. The whole city is amazing. It’s a beautiful spot. There are golf courses all around. It’s a great place to play junior hockey and I’m really excited.”
Knowing the history of the franchise, Weight has high expectations of himself coming north of the border as he tries to develop his game to a new level.
“I’m looking to come in and be a really key part to our team,” Weight stated. “I want to be a play maker, be a goal scorer and be an offensive leader on our team. I want to develop my game as much as I can so I can work towards being an NHL player. My mentality is to come in and help this team in any way I can to help them win a championship.”
Vees fans hope they’ll see Danny parading around the South Okanagan Events Centre ice with a trophy over his head, just like his dad did 14 years ago.