MONTREAL – Leaving home at a young age to pursue a dream is never easy. Even less so when you have to cross an ocean to do it. But, that’s exactly what Yannick Weber
did and thanks to skills on the ice and off, is cooking up a storm.
In his first professional campaign, Weber finds himself ranking among not only the top AHL rookies in scoring, but among the top defenseman as well. He also earned a spot on the PlanetUSA All-Star Team back in January. It was his second consecutive nod at a midseason classic after being named an OHL All-Star in 2008, in his sophomore season with the Kitchener Rangers.
The thought of crossing the pond initially set in back in December 2005, when Weber got his taste of North American hockey at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Vancouver.
“That was my first really big hockey experience. I was asked after if I wanted to play junior or college, so I thought about it and realized it would be better for me,” recalled Weber of his debut at the annual tournament. “My goal was and is to play in the NHL. The first step to get there is to go to North America.”
That, combined with advice from a guy who knew all about coming over, all but sealed the deal.
“I spoke to Mark Streit and he said the earlier you can get over the better,” Weber said. “The first time I met him, he acted like he knew me already. We just hit it off. He’s been through it in Montreal. He told me to play as I can and keep working hard.”
The pair first got acquainted when they skated together over the summer back in Switzerland a few years back. While Weber was impressed by Streit, whose influence is part of the reason he opted to wear No. 7 both on the World Junior stage and in Hamilton, the feeling is more than mutual.
“He’s just a really good guy with the right attitude and that’s a big part of making it to the NHL,” noted Streit. “His goal is to be in the NHL and he’s on the right track. He’s a really good player with a bright future ahead of him.”
Like most hockey players, he took that first step on to that track at a young age.
“When I was about six years old, my dad had seen a news article that the city was looking for young kids to play hockey. I wasn’t involved in any sports yet so he asked me if I was interested. I went to practices and just kept going,” he recalled.
When he wasn’t working on the right mix of ingredients in his game, the youngest of three – he has an older brother and sister – was busy developing a flair for food.
“I like cooking, preparing stuff,” said Weber. “It comes from my family. I used to always help my mom before hockey. Then, when I came over, my billet family were good cooks and I helped out there too.
“I live on my own right now and I don’t want to go out every night. It’s fun to prepare food. I just like doing it.”
As skilled on the ice as he is in the kitchen, it’s a talent that bodes well in his situation. Perhaps even more than he would have expected.
“We actually did a cooking challenge here in Hamilton. We went in a kitchen on a television setand I ended up winning that challenge,” he said with a laugh.
So, on a team filled with plenty of young guys fending for themselves on a culinary front for the first time, is Chez Yannick the place to be?
was my roommate before he got called up, so I used to cook for him,” said Weber. “But, after that challenge, I had a bunch of guys wanting invitations the next time I cook.”
With honors following him both on and off the ice, it would seem Weber is cooking up something special. Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com