BROSSARD – There’s something special about a player who thrives on a measure of instability when it comes to his regular playing partners and just keeps on delivering the goods. Dale Weise is a good example of that.
The 26-year-old forward has been featured with a host of linemates during the 2014-15 campaign, serving as a first-line winger one night, while grinding it out in a third or fourth-line role the next. Through it all, however, Weise hasn’t missed a beat, chipping in whenever and wherever possible while continuing to showcase the grit and skill that earned him a two-year contract with the Canadiens last summer.
“A lot of guys like to have that stability and stay with their own lines. I kind of like the fact that every time I come to the rink, I don’t know who I’m going to play with. That even applies during games. Everybody’s got their own strengths. I think when you play with everybody, you kind of see that and get an appreciation for a lot of players. It’s just fun to play with everybody on the team,” offered Weise, who has seen time on nine different trios and played with 11 different players through 37 games this season.
“With a lot of guys, it might take some time to build some chemistry. For whatever reason, I just keep my game the same and work. Me, Davey and Patch had some success. Even with Pleky and Davey the last game, our line played well,” added the Winnipeg native, who joined the Canadiens last February in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks. “There’s times when you could go a whole season without a chance to play with everybody and I’ve done it.”
And, he’s certainly done it well. The five-year NHL veteran has five goals and 15 points on the year, while ranking second on the team with a plus-11 differential and 68 hits, too.
“I think it’s just about getting an opportunity to play more. The first couple of years [I was in the league], I was kind of pigeon-holed in a fourth-line role. The leash wasn’t very long, and the ice time wasn’t very long. I always had confidence in myself. This year, I’m finally getting the opportunity to play a lot. I’m continuing to build confidence in myself,” confided Weise, who went from averaging well under 10 minutes per game in two-plus seasons in Vancouver to averaging almost 12 minutes per outing in Montreal. “It also helps to play with good players. I think it’s just about maturing and becoming more comfortable in the league. You always hear people talk about experience in the league and playing games. I think that’s the biggest reason for my success. You just learn how to play to be successful.”
In Weise’s case, suiting up at the Bell Centre might have something to do with his success as well. Eleven of his 15 points in 2014-15 have come on home ice, and he’ll be the first one to tell you that the building’s consistently electric atmosphere can work wonders on any player’s game.
“Every time I come to the Bell Centre, for whatever reason, I just have a little extra jump. I just have that extra energy. Me being a lifelong Habs fan might play a part in it because I’ve waited my whole life to play here. It’s a dream come true to play here. We have the best fans in the world,” praised Weise, who surpassed the 200-game mark in his NHL career earlier this season. “Every game seems like a playoff atmosphere. That’s so big. Whether it’s a Tuesday night against a team you play once a year or a Saturday night game, it’s the same every night. I just get excited to play every time we’re out there.”
It also hasn’t hurt Weise’s cause to have a head coach in Michel Therrien who has shown confidence in his abilities, placing him in a variety of situations typically reserved for trustworthy troops.
“He’s been huge for me. From the moment I got here, he showed a belief and trust in me that I could be more than I was to that point. I think that was the biggest step there, just having that belief from him. Throwing me out there late in games. Playing me with top guys. That’s done a lot for me as a player,” confessed Weise, who previously played under the likes of one of the league’s more outspoken and controversial bench bosses in John Tortorella before arriving in La Belle Province. “When someone believes in you like that, you want to play for him, you want to win for him. I think that’s just translated into confidence. He’s been huge for me. I can’t thank him enough for the opportunity.”
Based on the way Weise is performing, it’s safe to say he’s definitely earned that chance.
“When you’re comfortable and you’re happy off the ice, I think that translates to your on-ice performance. For the first time in my NHL career, I’m extremely happy with where I am and the way things are going. I think that’s showing in my play,” concluded Weise, who got married last July and now calls the South Shore home along with his wife, Lauren, and one-year-old son, Hunter. “The club showed a lot of confidence in me by giving me a two-year deal. Being on four one-year deals in a row wears on you a little bit. It’s nice to have a little stability. The organization has put a lot of trust in me. I can’t imagine playing anywhere else.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
Words From The Room - January 8