BROSSARD - There he was, left foot in a boot, propped up on a scooter, making - nay, rolling - his way to his locker room stall at the Bell Sports Complex to speak to reporters and provide an update on his healing process.
Shea Weber, that is.
The veteran defenseman met with the media for the first time since undergoing surgery to a tendon in his left foot on March 13 to shed some light on his recovery - and on how he has been dealing with the ordeal.
"It's hard. It's been a hard year for everyone, for the whole team. It's been a battle. I've been trying to get through it, but at the end of the day, the situation was to take care of it and get ready for next year," recounted the 6-foot-4, 230-pound blue-liner. "It's tough; I've never really dealt with it. But hopefully, I'll be able to come back stronger and better because of it."
The hardest part for Weber, ever the consummate teammate, was that the injury prevented him from being out on the front lines with his fellow Habs. As one of the most revered players in the room, only an exceptional - and exceptionally painful - injury could have held him back from doing just that.
"I had one [injection]. It was painful, for sure. I was trying to find a way to get through it and help the team. That's just the way it goes; you play through pain. Everyone plays through it. It's something we deal with on a daily basis," described Weber, who recorded six goals and 10 assists in 26 games before his season was shut down. "But it got to a point where it felt like there was something more severe than just the pain. My body was trying to tell me something more was going on."
His willingness to play through pain until he no longer could is just one of the many reasons people across the League describe Weber as the ultimate leader.
"You don't want to make excuses. Everybody plays hurt, everyone has issues throughout a year. The last thing you want to do is sit here and say, 'My game is struggling because I'm hurt, and this, that, and the next thing.' There are a lot of reasons why you're not at the top of your game," explained Weber. "You just have to put it aside and find a way. We're taught that way growing up: you play through stuff. A lot of pro sports guys just play through it and try to get the job done.
"I feel I have a responsibility to my teammates. They go out there every night, they work their butts off for me, and I want to do the same for them. I don't want to let anyone down, and that's the biggest thing. You want to be here for the fans, but I think the guys in this locker room are what mean the most to you. [They're] the guys you battle for, and you want to be here for [them] every night."
What finally prevented Weber from battling with the boys is an injury he avows is the most severe he's ever dealt with. But the 32-year-old has taken everything in stride as best he could.
"I broke my ankle in 2010 and played through it, he recalled. "This is the longest one I've tried to fight through. I've never been going through this much rehab for something.
"I'm confident I can put in as much work as I can and be back to where I was at the start of this year."
Video: STL@MTL: Weber's long shot curves in for 500th point
That work began the moment Weber went under the knife with Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay, WI, and has continued with the boot-and-scooter combination that has largely kept him off his feet ever since.
"I don't want free time anymore. [There's been] way too much sitting around," lamented Weber. "It's tough watching the guys. Obviously, you want to be out there battling with them. Especially when you're not mobile, it's tough to do much. I like to do something with my time; it's been difficult."
Not even able to walk the dogs - he admits they'd end up pulling him around if he tried - Weber does acknowledge that spending some more time at home with his kids has at least been a bonus for the family man.
"Yeah, for sure," he added. "They probably think it's weird; they're not used to me being around so much."
Video: Shea Weber gives an update on his progression
Luckily, Weber will be able to start putting weight on his foot next week, and although it'll be another six before the boot comes off, it won't be too long before he kicks his recovery - and then his summer training regimen - into full gear in anticipation of the 2018-19 season.
"Because the surgery was a little bit earlier, I don't think it'll make much of a difference as far as training," Weber outlined. "I think I'll be able to go full-board here. Not for awhile; I still can't walk yet. But once we're given the green light, we're going to do some rehab, build it up, do as much as we can and be ready to go.
"There are never any assurances, but that's my plan. I'm going to work as hard as I can - just like I do every summer," he concluded. "There's a bit more of something I have to work through, but that's something we'll be able to do."