NEW YORK -- With his missing tooth and thick playoff beard, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Mike Weaver bears all the telltale features of a veteran stay-at-home NHL defenseman. He's lived up to the look, carving out a career as a shot-blocking defenseman with six different teams in the past 12 seasons.
A graduate of Michigan State University with a major in telecommunications and a minor in virtual reality software development and web design, Weaver is now combining one of his signature skills on the ice with one of his true passions off it.
"I'm the Chief Innovation Officer for this company that's going to come out in a little bit. That's my background," Weaver said. "It's fun. You've got to branch out."
For Weaver, branching out also involves implementing the design for a new adjustable skate cover that assists in blocking shots. Consisting of a series of adjustable parts, Weaver's specialized "shot blocker" is intended to fit a skate of any size. He forwarded the design to Reebok, which is about as much as he can share about the project.
"Reebok is looking at a patent for a type of shot blocker. It's a different unique way of doing it," Weaver said. "It would fit on any foot and it would be effective, and it's not going to be too bulky or wide."
Weaver's familiarity with design and technology is unexpected, but his focus on blocking shots isn't. The veteran defenseman is tied for 10th in blocked shots during the Stanley Cup Playoffs entering Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, which Montreal will play against the New York Rangers on Sunday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
The Rangers lead the best-of-7 series 2-1.
"I've always blocked shots. You pick up different things. I never used to go down to one knee, and I saw that in a game five years ago and I started doing it," Weaver said. "There are different things. Really what it comes down to is you have to have the [guts] to jump in front of the puck."
Weaver's tendency to get in the way of shots started early. As a 13-year-old bantam hockey player, his coach put him and his teammates in front of the net during practice and fired tennis balls in their direction. The intention was to find a gentle way to impress on them the importance of blocking shots.
"Halfway through the practice, it started getting pretty cold, so those tennis balls were like rocks," Weaver said.
Acquired by Montreal from the Florida Panthers at the NHL Trade Deadline, Weaver's ability to alter opposing shots has proven important in the Canadiens' run to the conference final. For the journeyman Weaver, who has also made stops with the St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings and Atlanta Thrashers, it's nothing different from what he's been doing much of his NHL career.
"I'm not doing anything different from what I was doing in Florida or St. Louis," he said. "I'm just playing my game. I don't think I'm getting out of my game. I'm playing within myself."
That particular game could soon lead to a second career in design.