Weber, who arrived at Le Mirage Golf Club accompanied by captain Max Pacioretty, was making his first public appearance as a member of the Canadiens since being acquired on June 29th. He's spent the last couple of days growing accustomed to his new hockey home and getting to know some his new teammates.
Addressing the large-scale media contingent in attendance on the North Shore, though, was something new for Weber, especially with five weeks remaining before the start of training camp. Nevertheless, the 30-year-old Sicamous, BC native took his debut in front of local reporters in stride, reiterating his excitement for the challenge ahead time and again.
“I’m excited for the passion. It’s exciting to be back in Canada, let alone the mecca of hockey, the place where people just eat, sleep and breathe hockey. It’s going to be something new, but I’m definitely looking forward to it,” said Weber, who visited the Bell Sports Complex on Monday to check out his new digs at the Canadiens’ practice facility and meet up with a few staffers as well.
In addition to visiting with the likes of Pacioretty and several other teammates in Brossard, Weber has also enjoyed some quality time with Carey Price in Kelowna, BC, where the two-time Olympic gold medalist spends his summers, too.
“Carey and his wife came over for dinner on Thursday. I got to know a little bit about Montreal in his own words. Obviously, as we continue to go along here, we’ll continue to build a stronger relationship,” mentioned Weber, who had dinner with a few of his Canadiens teammates in Montreal on Monday night. “I went out to eat with Max and a few other guys. Max and I talked and he seems like a great guy. He’s a great player. I’ve seen him on the ice. I’m looking forward to getting a chance to play with him along with all the other guys.”
Pacioretty knows that he can count on Weber for key pieces of advice all year long. Weber arrives in Montreal with more than 750 games of NHL experience on his resume, in addition to being the captain of the Nashville Predators for the last six seasons. Qualities like that will go a long way towards helping the Canadiens’ young captain further establish himself in that role going forward, especially in a market like Monteal.
“I think with all of the moves [over the summer], I definitely do have a little more help. He’s been known as one of the best captains in the league for some years now. Already from talking to him, I’ve learned a bunch,” revealed Pacioretty, who also praised the addition of Andrew Shaw to the Canadiens’ leadership group. “You don’t often get the chance to trade for a guy who’s won two Stanley Cups. He knows what it takes. He’s played with some of the best players in the world, and probably the best captain in the world for a long time. Those experiences mean a lot more to a team that people can realize.”
Not only can Pacioretty count on Weber to be a help in the dressing room, but the Canadiens’ No. 67 insists he’ll be an immediate difference-maker on the ice. Having gone up against the five-time NHL All-Star on several occasions, Pacioretty knows first-hand what his new teammate can do at both ends of the rink.
“Him and [Roman] Josi, in everybody in the league’s mind, were definitely the toughest pairing to play against. Last year, we were all over them in Nashville and Shea scored a goal early. When you go down early in Nashville playing against those two, you’re not coming back because they’re so hard to play against,” recalled Pacioretty. “Shea knows how to play the game the right way. I’m very thankful that we get to play with a guy like that as opposed to playing against him.”
Nathan Beaulieu is another player who will undoubtedly benefit from Weber’s arrival this season. The 23-year-old defenseman, who just surpassed the 150 games played plateau at the NHL level, is pleased to have another veteran presence to turn to for guidance anytime.
“I was fortunate enough to go to dinner with him last night and he’s a special player. He’s an All-Star. He scored 20 goals last year. I skate with a lot of guys who played in the Western Conference last year and he has a lot of enemies out there,” said Beaulieu. “A lot of people don’t like to play against him. That’s a great addition for us. I think as a whole, we’re going to be a better hockey team this year.”
Having already learned some of the tricks of the hockey trade from Sergei Gonchar, Beaulieu would very much appreciate the opportunity to soak up some of Weber’s knowledge while playing alongside him in 2016-17.
“Last night, we were just talking and hoping that we get the chance to play with each other. I think we’d complement each other really well. A guy like that scares a lot of people. He’s got so many threats. He’ll kill you on both sides of the puck,” stressed Beaulieu. “Just the opportunity to play on a unit with him would definitely be special and definitely beneficial for me.”
The head coach
Even though head coach Michel Therrien was eager to talk about something other than the Canadiens’ offseason moves, there was simply no avoiding it. It marked the first time that Therrien could share his thoughts on the trade involving Shea Weber and P.K. Subban. From the start, the Canadiens’ bench boss wanted to be crystal clear about his relationship with Subban, explaining that there were no issues between them whatsoever.
“I love my players. Can I always make everyone happy every day? No. It’s impossible. If I did that, I wouldn’t be doing my job,” explained Therrien. “I always say that being a coach is like being the father of a family. From time to time, a father has to tell his kids – ‘Enough is enough.’ That doesn’t mean that we don’t love them. We do. Being a coach is the same thing. The most important thing is the way a player performs.”
On the subject of Weber’s acquisition, Therrien is adamant that the defenseman’s overall experience will be an important asset in Pacioretty’s continued development.
“Shea Weber will make Max Pacioretty a better captain. A guy like Max learned a lot last year. You learn from tough situations,” said Therrien. “The fact that a guy like Weber is coming in with all of that experience will help not only Max, but our young defensemen and young veterans, too. His presence and his style of play commands respect.”
For a good cause
This time around, the Michel Therrien Golf Invitational welcomed 41 celebrities to the event, including players and coaches. A total of 280 golfers participated in the festivities. Last year, the event helped to raise over $225,000 for the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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Shea's first day in Montreal
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Shea Weber's first visit to Brossard