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Shea Weber trade a hit for Canadiens

Former Montreal goalie Jose Theodore says acquisition of defenseman has had impact on, off ice

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / Columnist

TORONTO -- The aftershocks of "The Trade" are barely felt in Montreal these days, a fact not altogether surprising when a team is leading the NHL with a 13-1-1 record and is 10-0-0 on home ice, with fans singing happily into the night after every Bell Centre final siren.

Of course, the Richter scale needed a few new numbers on June 29 when the Montreal Canadiens traded fan favorite P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber, two high-profile defensemen cut from very different fabric changing addresses.

The uproar was probably equal parts emotion, the term of contracts of the principals, analytics as crunched by those so inclined and the optics of the trade. Many fans, and Subban himself, said it was a trade of personalities.

Fifteen games into the 2016-17 season, Canadiens fans are almost a happy lot, and Weber's larger-than-life performance is a major reason why. He has six goals, tied with Alex Galchenyuk for the team lead. Five of the six have come with thunder's volume and laser accuracy on the power play. He's also an NHL-best plus-17.

The trade polarized fans and objective observers and will stir emotions for years to come. But former Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore, who during his playing days understood the value of a strong defenseman's real and intangible qualities, thought Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin did wonderfully with the monstrous transaction.

Video: DET@MTL: Weber beats Howard with huge slap shot

"The first thing is, when you make a big trade like this, you have to give somebody special because you're getting a special player in return," said Theodore, today a TVA Sports hockey analyst and weekly columnist for the French-language daily Le Journal de Montréal.

"Subban is a really talented player. But for me, when I heard about the trade, I was pro-Weber because I knew what he could bring to the table. I knew how many different tools he has and what kind of impact he'd have in the dressing room.

"When you win, you need the full team to win. But who's going to be the leader and take charge in the room after a 10-0 loss or after a period when things aren't going well? A guy like Weber is the kind of guy who's going to stand up, calm everybody and go out there, play physically and lead by example."

The addition of Weber, Theodore believes, takes some of the pressure off the shoulders of captain Max Pacioretty and provides strong leadership for young players and veterans alike.

"Look at the numbers Weber is putting up. He's playing like he's a beast out there," Theodore said. "But it's not just the minutes he's playing, it's the quality of minutes and the impact he's having. Everybody looks at him. Everybody follows him."

Video: TOR@MTL: Weber sends Hyman flying

Theodore pointed to the friendship between Weber and goalie Carey Price, who have won together for Canada at the Winter Olympics and World Cup of Hockey 2016, and often train together in the summertime.

"I'm sure that Carey was happy to get a buddy," Theodore said. "But more importantly, you can see the Canadiens are doing the right things to get closer to the Stanley Cup, so that gives you a little boost.

"Even though the team might allow 40 shots, you have a guy like Weber who you know is going to clear the front of the net and that the shot might be coming from the outside because Weber is there. He's a good model for a lot of guys. A lot of players are just going to follow his lead and that's why I feel you have so many Canadiens playing well this year."

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