|Mike Weaver defends against Alexei Ponikarovsky of the Devils in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals (Getty Images)
While most hockey players in the offseason relax and train during the summer, Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver does a little something extra.
Every summer, he holds his “Defense First” camp in Toronto and Michigan. It makes sense that the “defensive defenseman” would try and help teach the basics of defense to kids at a young age.
“It’s something that I got some time in the summer [to do] while I’m training to give back to hockey in Toronto,” Weaver said, who was taking a break during his camp in Toronto. “It’s good to work with the younger kids and help them develop into great defensive players.
"Defense is often neglected throughout the year so it’s great to actually teach kids defense [pretty much] for the first time.”
Weaver’s camp in Toronto runs for two weeks, while the one in Michigan runs for one week. Both camps are split into two groups, standard and elite. Along with running the camps, Weaver is also enjoying the time off with his family in Toronto since he doesn’t get to see them very often while in season.
That's what happens when you play a full 82 game schedule.
Weaver, in fact, has played in back-to-back full 82 game seasons and he credits his workout regimen and commitment to conditioning for his durability. The summer is when Weaver puts in all the hard work that is necessary for a successful season in the fall.
“My workout I do a little bit different. I do a lot of more body weight stuff and I do a lot of running,” Weaver said. “In the Summer time that’s your time to make the great advances with your body as far as size and weight, but I find that during the year it’s more of a healing up part of your regimen.”
It seems as if Weaver’s commitment in the summer has translated into success on the ice as last season he posted career highs in several categories. Last season, Weaver led the team in blocked shots with 137 and had 16 points compared to 13 the year prior. The humble Weaver of course thanked the coaches and his teammates for making it easier on him in his second season with the team.
“Our coaching staff has… put me in situations where I’m able to excel [and] we had a pretty good offensive crew that if you gave them a pretty good pass; they were able to bury it,” he explained. “I really don’t look at points as much as most guys, as long as I’m out of the paper [laughing], I’m doing my job.
"With me, it’s more of just being the best defensive player and I love being called upon and put into situations that really test myself and test my skills.”
Scoring a goal in the playoffs is always an exciting moment and Weaver admitted to that since his only goal last season was in a playoff game as his goal in the second period tied Game 3 against New Jersey after Florida had trailed by three early in the first period. However, he wasn’t completely satisfied with scoring a goal in the playoffs.
“Anything I’m able to contribute to the team, I’m excited about that, Weaver said. “[However], I rather actually have people give me a pat on the back saying great hit, great defensive play or great shot block rather than great goal.”
Spoken like a true “defensive defenseman” who truly holds “defense first.”