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It’s hard to gauge emotion from Shea Weber’s face.
No matter the situation – good, bad indifferent – he stays stoic and almost statuesque in how his surveys what has occurred in front of him.
“I really regard him as a John Wayne type,” longtime Nashville Predators play-by-play voice Peter Weber said. “I think Shea is overly loud with that shot of his, but I really do think he is the mostly silent, very strong type that guys respect for that.”
This ability to stay level and even has helped Shea Weber become one of the top defensemen in the NHL since 2005-06, his first year in the league. In his eight full seasons since then he has scored in between 15-23 goals and notched in between 40-56 points.
In his career, he’s averaged 24:02 of ice-time in 763 NHL games. The 30-year-old Weber has been named to two Canadian Olympic, won two gold medals and was one of the first 16 players added to Team Canada’s World Cup team. Three times, Weber has been named a finalist for the Norris Trophy.
Even though he’s held some lofty career accomplishments the trade of him to the Montreal Canadiens for fan favorite blueliner P.K. Subban has been seen as disastrous by Habs fans.
Subban is four years younger, a more fluid skater and known as a better puck possession player. He’s also one of the most flamboyant personalities in the NHL – which is in direct contrast to Weber’s meat and potatoes style. His charitable values within the city of Montreal is legendary, especially after he gave $10 million to Montreal Children’s Hospital.
“I’m not P.K. Subban, I’m not going to try to be,” Weber said on a Wednesday conference call with reporters. “I’m going to bring my hard work and attitude and try to bring this team into some wins. The biggest thing I want to do is win and I know they have a good base, obviously one of the best goaltenders and some top end forwards and I’m just excited to be joining that group.”
Those who have played with Weber see him as one of the top leaders in the sport and one of the best all-around blueliners in the game. Star forwards who have played against him often circled the Nashville Predators as a game where they knew they would feel a certain amount of pain and difficulty in trying to score.
Hey Webs good luck in Montreal thanks for leaving our division! #relief
— Jonathan Toews (@JonathanToews) June 29, 2016
“The response of Toews to the trade says it all,” said Buffalo Sabres defenseman Cody Franson, who grew up with Weber in Sicamous, British Columbia. “Nobody likes playing against him. He’s aggressively physical. Will go to bat for a teammate. Has a shot that nobody really wants to get in the way of. And I may be biased or maybe I can say this due to how much time I’ve spent with him but his skill level doesn’t get enough praise. He’s a big bruising very well-rounded defenseman, And he has hands like a small skill guy if you pay attention. Little saucer passes and hand-eye coordination. His skating ability, patience with the puck. It’s all very impressive if you pay attention.”
Weber came along as team captain at a time when the Predators were trying to find their leadership identity. The team had just opted to part ways with former captain Jason Arnott and wanted a new, younger voice to try to take the organization to the next level.
At that point Nashville hadn’t made it past the first-round of the playoffs. They were seen as a team that was just good enough to make the postseason but never a threat to go on a run.
The Predators made the second-round three times in Weber’s six seasons as captain.
While this may not seem like much in comparison to some teams that strive to make a Stanley Cup every year, it was monumental for a budget-strapped Predators team that suffered through ownership issues shortly after Weber’s first NHL season and almost moved to Canada.
“I think he’s a big reason why the Predators are a successful, strong franchise in the NHL,” former Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “To me he was the standard all your players wanted to follow. He’s the benchmark in terms of conditioning and in terms of professionalism and obviously the face of the franchise.”
Said Weber’s former Nashville teammate Paul Gaustad, “I can’t speak to Subban’s leadership because I do not know him. I just know Shea is a tremendous leader on and off the ice he does all the little things right all the time. With a team that young I think Nashville will have a tough time replacing a quality person, player and leader at Shea’s caliber. Nashville has a ton of quality people but again with Shea leaving it will leave a huge hole that they will have to, not easily, replace. To replace Shea will take a long time.”
Weber’s mother died from brain cancer in the summer of 2010 after a long battle with the illness. This left a profound impact on Weber – who keeps his personal life close to the vest.
The last several years he felt spurred become more invested in local charity work, which culminated in his ‘365 Fund’ that benefits pediatric cancer patients at Monroe Carrel Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. This joint venture with goaltender Pekka Rinne was announced in the fall of 2014.
In his hometown Weber partners with the Sicamous Shootout to host a golf tournament in support of the BC Cancer Society.
“I’m a believer that you don’t really go out and tell people about (charity), you just do it. Our ‘365 Fund’ is known about but when you go to the children’s hospital I don’t like to be followed with cameras, I don’t like to have all the pictures and stuff,” Weber said at the most recent NHL Awards. “I just like to do it for the right reasons.”
Noted Pete Weber, “I almost wonder if he and P.K. will trade Montreal Children’s Hospital for Monroe Carrel here at Vanderbilt.”
In his closely guarded personal life, Weber is a family man. He’s married, has two kids, loves his dogs, plays fantasy sports and is an avid Toronto Blue Jays supporter.
“I wish I could give you some inside the room perspective. But from observation I would say he definitely leaves this town as the leader of that team within the room, the way the guys all respond to him – that we see both on and off the ice” Pete Weber said. “You and I know Shea as a quiet guy who is not overly verbose with us, but I know him as a great baseball fan and we communicate on that level on a fairly regular basis. I’m sure he did better without me, but I was his advisor on his various fantasy baseball operations – not the only one but one of them. And I’m going to miss that.”
There is one factor Weber can’t control that may make this trade a losing scenario for the Canadiens. He can’t become four-years younger, which is probably the biggest reason Nashville won the deal. The Predators will have Subban for his prime years, while the Habs will need to deal with Weber – who is under contract through 2025-26 – through his decline. But there are some positives he’ll bring to the Habs and a certain level of maturity that it seemed Subban lacked at times. With Weber there will be fewer off-ice distractions – just hockey all year round.
“Shea is one of the most accomplished and respected leaders in the game today. Great person and teammate,” said Matt Cullen who played two years with Weber in Nashville. “He has done a lot that goes unseen to help mentor that young group of d-men in Nashville. One of the most physically dominant players I’ve played with or against.”
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