BROSSARD - With the start of the 2018-19 season just days away, Canadiens management had an important leadership decision to make: would they select a captain before the beginning of the campaign, or would they kick the can down the road?
When discussing their options, general manager Marc Bergevin and head coach Claude Julien quickly realized their minds were already made up: Shea Weber would be their man, and he would be their man right away.
"The choice was obvious. The players all feel the same way, we all feel that Shea is the right guy to lead this team. We didn't want to wait," explained Bergevin. "Training camp was over, the season starts on Wednesday, and today was the perfect day to make the announcement."
Video: Marc Bergevin on why Weber was appointed captain
If they felt they didn't have the right person for the job, Bergevin and Julien might've opted to spend the season without a captain, but when the spot opened up following the Max Pacioretty trade, the pair was in clear agreement that Weber would be a perfect fit to lead their club.
Anyone familiar with Weber's pedigree and reputation would agree that the 13-year veteran possesses leadership qualities aplenty. Julien, for one, was well aware of what he brought both in the room and on the ice even prior to beginning his second stint behind the Montreal bench.
"Before coming to Montreal I had him at the Olympics, even the World Cup in Toronto, so I knew a lot about Shea. I think it's pretty obvious when you look at him as a person, it's natural," outlined Julien. "The stuff he does comes naturally to him. He's one of those guys that players gravitate towards."
Known for taking young players under his wing, be it by offering them advice on the ice or a home-cooked meal with his family, Weber - who is referred to as 'dad' by his teammates - is sure to be nothing but a positive influence on the players who look up to him as their leader.
"He's one of those guys who believes in the values of what it takes to be successful. Whether it's the values of supporting what the coaching staff is trying to bring or supporting his players throughout certain processes. Everybody has ups and downs, but Shea is always there to support those guys and help them out," added Julien. "Players seem to gravitate towards him. He's earned the respect. Not just from the coaching staff, also from his players. I often say: you don't demand it; you earn it. I think that's what he's done over the time he's been with us here."
Video: Claude Julien on Weber's leadership style
For Bergevin, the choice really came down to a matter of respect, and he feels that not many people in the game have more of it than Weber.
"The word respect goes a long way. His teammates, management, coaches. It's around the NHL: Shea Weber is one of the most respected hockey players," he said. "That speaks for itself."
Rather than hold a player vote, Bergevin and Julien made the decision to appoint Weber themselves. That said, they did so keeping their ears to the ground in the room.
"We made the decision because we knew it wasn't necessary to have a vote," shared Julien. "It would've been the same thing.
"At the end of the day, Shea was the name that unanimously came up. Not just in our discussions, but also, we felt, in the dressing room as well."
Weber, who spent six seasons as Nashville Predators captain, has an abundance of experience with the "C" on his sweater, which will go a long way towards helping the club's up-and-coming talent develop and succeed. And that "C" seems like it just belongs on him.
"It seems to come naturally to him. When you have a young team, it's important to have a good role model as your leader," Julien said of Weber, who will count on Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron as his alternates. "His values will definitely be spread around the locker room."
Video: Claude Julien on why there was no player vote
With their decision made, the photos all taken, and the media ops all out of the way, the Canadiens can now enter the season confident in their leadership group as they prepare to begin the regular season.
"In this case, it's obvious that we had a good captain and good leaders to be able to make this decision today," concluded Julien. "Shea has all the makings of a real captain."