It may have looked a bit strange at first, but after a while,Will Weber fit right in.
Well, as best as a 6-foot-4, 230-pound defenseman could look on the ice with a group of young goalies at this week's Blue Jackets Hockey School. Weber, who recently completed a standout hockey career at Miami University (Ohio) in Oxford, spent a few hours at the OhioHealth's Chiller North location in Lewis Center skating with goalies and giving the kids a memory they will not soon forget.
Not only were the kids full of smiles, but so was Weber. Each time the players participate in a hockey school clinic, they seem to be reminded of their younger days skating with players they looked up to and soaking up knowledge passed along to them.
Weber may not be a goalie, but there's a lot that can be learned from a sturdy, stay-at-home defenseman who sacrifices his body every night to help out his goaltenders.
"There's a lot of little things (to teach)," Weber told BlueJackets.com. "I think the biggest thing I try to get across is to communicate with your defensemen. At every level, communication becomes more and more important.
"Communicating between defensemen and goalies is a huge thing and I just try to pass that along to them. There's been a lot of goalies that have saved my butt, so I have a lot of respect for these guys out here."
Weber laughed when he was told he would be showing the goalies some stickhandling maneuvers, something a defensive defenseman doesn't practice all that much. But he displayed some flashy dekes and backhanders that had the youngsters mesmerized by the puck.
The kids weren't shy about reminding him how many saves they made against him, and for Weber, that's one of the more fun aspects of these camps -- meeting the kids and seeing the growth in local hockey interest across all age levels.
"It was fun shooting on some goalies that I can actually score on," Weber joked. "There were so many kids out there, and that's good to see especially in Ohio -- kids out here trying to get better in the summer. There's a lot of young talent out here, you can see that.
"The Blue Jackets were a huge reason why there are so many (local kids) playing youth hockey now. Before that, there wasn't really a team to look up to. It's good to see."
Blue Jackets Hockey School continues throughout the month of August, with appearances scheduled for Jared Boll, Dan Hinote, R.J. Umberger and Ryan Johansen. Stay tuned to BlueJackets.com and JacketsTV for coverage from each player appearance during hockey school.