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Shea Weber 'excited for passion' of Canadiens fans

Defenseman meets Montreal media for first time since acquired from Nashville in trade for P.K. Subban

by Sean Farrell / Correspondent

TERREBONNE, Quebec -- Shea Weber has hardly been hanging on every word since the June 29 trade of two of the elite defensemen in the NHL, when Weber was acquired by the Montreal Canadiens from the Nashville Predators for P.K. Subban.

Weber made his first public appearance as a member of the Canadiens at Montreal coach Michel Therrien's charity golf tournament Tuesday, nearly six weeks after the trade.

"Obviously, I haven't been out here and I'm not one to follow that kind of stuff," said Weber, who spent the summer in Kelowna, British Columbia. "I understand that P.K. is a very popular player here and I understand the fans are very passionate, so hopefully I can come here and help this team win. And that's the bottom line, is winning games."

Weber toured the Canadiens practice facility in suburban Brossard on Monday. The former Predators captain also took the time to look at the house he recently bought in the Montreal area and went to dinner with a few of his new teammates, including Max Pacioretty, Nathan Beaulieu and Andrew Shaw, who also took part in Therrien's tournament.

Surrounded by media as soon as he arrived with Pacioretty at Club de Golf Le Mirage, Weber was comfortable with the attention his Canadiens debut garnered, holding court with the French and English press for 13 minutes.

Video: Shea Weber excited to play in 'mecca of hockey'

"Yeah, I'm excited for the passion," said Weber, who wore his No. 6 Montreal jersey with an alternate captain's "A" while answering questions. "It's exciting to be back in Canada, let alone the mecca of hockey, the place where people just eat, sleep and breathe hockey. It's going to be something new, but I'm definitely looking forward to it."

Weber, who turns 31 on Sunday, initially was shocked when he learned he had been traded by Nashville, which selected him in the second round (No. 49) of the 2003 NHL Draft.

He spent 11 seasons with the Predators and was their captain for the past six, winning the Mark Messier Leadership Award last season. The 6-foot-4, 236-pound defenseman retained his hardest-shot title in Nashville in February in his fifth trip to the NHL All-Star Game and has been named to the NHL First or Second All-Star Team four times.

"There's definitely an excitement that a team wants you," Weber said. "They've traded for you, so they want you, and obviously you want to come here and be a piece and be a part of what they're going for.

"They made some good acquisitions this offseason, I think, that are going to help push this team forward, you know, some good character guys, and to fit in with the pieces that they have with a healthy Carey Price, I think it's going to be a good season."

Price and Weber were teammates when Weber won his second straight Olympic gold medal for Canada in Sochi in 2014. Each will play for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 next month.

Weber said he skated with Price three times this week and had him and his wife over for dinner recently.

"I got told a little bit about Montreal in his words, and obviously as we go along here, we'll continue to build a stronger relationship," Weber said.

Therrien told reporters they would have to wait until training camp to see who Weber will play with, but Beaulieu said he took the opportunity to express to Weber his interest in partnering with him.

"[Monday] night, we were just talking, and hopefully we'll get that chance to play together," Beaulieu said. "I think we would complement each other really well. He scares a lot of people and he's got so many threats … on both sides of the puck, so just the opportunity to play on a unit with him would be special and definitely beneficial for me."

Shaw, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on June 24, said it won't take long for Weber to become a hit with Canadiens fans.

"They're going to love him," Shaw said. "Trust me, they're going to love him. He's that player that every Canadian's going to love. Every Canadiens fan is going to fall in love with him, I think, the moment they see him on home ice and see how great he is offensively and defensively, and how tough he is in front of the net as well."

And Shaw should know. He said Weber broke two of his ribs during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"He's probably the worst guy to play against," Shaw said. "I've played against him a lot, you know, him being in Nashville and me being in Chicago. We faced each other a lot, so I'm glad I don't battle with him in front of the net anymore, but I've got to watch out for that shot now, I guess."

Minnesota Wild forward Jason Pominville, who also took part in the golf tournament, said his back and his legs are relieved Weber is no longer in the Central Division.

"He was a big part of their team, he was a big part of the division, he controls a lot of the game when he's on the ice," Pominville said. "Obviously, we know he's physical, his shot is phenomenal, he's a leader, so to see him leave is a little bit of a relief for the guys in the division, but at the same time (with Subban), they're getting a great player, a younger player, but a guy that is also a really good player.

"I think it was just a great fit for both teams and they decided to make the trade and go with it, but to not have to play against him, I think a lot of guys are going to be excited in the division."

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