Legendary hockey reporter and analyst Stan Fischler will write a weekly scrapbook for NHL.com this season. Fischler, known as "The Hockey Maven," will share his knowledge, humor and insight with readers each Wednesday.
Today, he compares current Montreal Canadiens defenseman and captain Shea Weber to Ken Reardon, a Hockey Hall of Famer from the 1940s.
Hard-rock NHL defensemen come in several categories -- tough, tougher and toughest. For much of the 1940s, the Montreal Canadiens had one of the NHL's toughest defenseman in Ken Reardon, and they have one today in Shea Weber.
Reardon's credentials for toughness were established on the ice as well as on the battlefields of World War II. After his first two seasons with the Canadiens, Reardon enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces and eventually was dispatched overseas. For his acts of heroism in battle, Reardon was awarded the Field Marshall Montgomery Certificate of Merit.
While Weber may not have been a war hero, he's been among the NHL's most dominant defensemen for more than a decade, first with the Nashville Predators and, for the past three seasons, with the Canadiens. His 6-foot-4, 229-pound physique has helped him become one of the NHL's hardest shooters. Weber has three 20-goal seasons and has scored at least 15 goals nine times. After missing most of the first two months this season with foot and knee injuries, he scored two goals in his second game, a 5-2 victory against the New York Rangers.
Reardon played before use of the slap shot became widespread, but he had one of the best shots of any NHL any defenseman in his era. Notorious for his intensity, Reardon often would startle both teammates and foes by "running" on the tips of his skates. In 1945-46, his first season back with the Canadiens after his time in the military, Reardon was a key cog on their Stanley Cup-winning team.
Another similarity is that neither was recognized as the NHL's best defenseman but each was highly regarded by the media and his coaches and teammates. In a span of five seasons, Weber was a First-Team All-Star twice and a Second-Team All-Star twice. He's finished among the top five in voting for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL's best defenseman, five times.
Reardon never had a chance to win the Norris; he retired in 1950, four years before the NHL first presented the trophy. But had the Norris existed when Reardon played, he'd certainly have been a regular contender; in a span of five seasons (1945-46 through 1949-50, his last in the NHL), he was a First-Team All-Star twice and made the Second All-Star team three times.