BROSSARD – The Canadiens added a major defensive weapon to their arsenal on Wednesday.
A five-time NHL All-Star, three-time Norris Trophy finalist, and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Shea Weber joins the Canadiens boasting an impressive NHL resume. Despite his credentials, which also include gold medal wins at both the World Junior and World Championship levels, Weber knows he’ll have big skates to fill when it comes to replacing Montreal fan favorite, P.K. Subban, on the Habs blue line next season.
“I’m not P.K. Subban and I’m not going to try to be. I’m just going to bring my hard work and attitude and try to bring this team some wins. The biggest thing I want to do is win,” confirmed Weber, who led all NHL defensemen with 14 power play goals in 2015-16 and helped the Predators reach the Western Conference semifinals this spring. “I know they’ve got a good base there, one of the best goaltenders in the world, and some top-end forwards.
“I feel this team is close,” he added. “Look at where they got before Carey [Price] got hurt last year and the run they were putting on; you know there’s some talent and good things in that locker room. I’m looking forward to being a part of it and moving a step closer.”
The 30-year-old Sicamous, BC native has spent his entire 11-year NHL career in a non-traditional market to this point, but he doesn’t foresee having any issues slipping seamlessly into the spotlight in Montreal – although, fans will have to wait slightly longer than usual to see Weber hit the ice in bleu-blanc-rouge in September, when the All-Star blue-liner will don red and white alongside his new netminder at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
“You deal with pressure everywhere you play. When you’re in the playoffs, you have pressure; when you’re at the Olympics, you have pressure,” explained Weber, who divulged that the first text he received from a new teammate was from fellow Kelowna resident and 2014 Olympic teammate, Carey Price. “It’s something you always deal with. I’m just looking at the excitement – when you go to the Bell Centre, it’s so much fun to play there. To play 41 home games there, I’m really looking forward to that. You know it’s going to be loud, and it’s going to be packed, and the fans are just very, very passionate.”
|Weber won the 2016 Mark Messier Leadership Award |
Having spent the last six seasons wearing the “C” in Nashville, Weber will also be counted on to bring some veteran leadership to the Canadiens dressing room. He hasn’t had a chance to sit down and talk Xs and Os with head coach Michel Therrien just yet, but based on the NHL-best 14 goals he scored with the man advantage from the blue line last season, there’s no question Weber will be called on to spark the team’s power play next year.
He’ll also be arriving with a bullet of a shot from the right point, having twice won the hardest shot competition at the NHL All-Star Game SuperSkills Competition.
“I’ve always been a guy who takes a lot of pride in my training and the work I do in the summer to be in good shape for the rest of the season,” explained the 6-foot-4, 236-pound rearguard, who earned the 2016 Mark Messier Leadership Award at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas. “I’m going to work just as hard, if not harder, to make sure I’ll be in good shape and ready to go.”
While he admits to feeling slightly nostalgic looking back on the first decade of his career, Weber is ready to start looking ahead at the next 10 years he’ll spend in his new hockey home.
“I do think about all the great times I had over there and I reflected over the last few hours on all the time I’ve spent in [Nashville]. It’s emotional to think about all I’ve been through. I really grew up during the 11 years I’ve spent there,” he shared. “It wouldn’t be human to say that I won’t miss it, but at the same time it’s in the past now and I’ve got to look at what’s ahead of me.
“They’re looking to win and they’re looking to do all the right things to put a winning team together,” added Weber. “I’m excited to be part of it.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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