How does one remember the Nashville Predators "John Wayne?" That's how I've described the team's previous captain prior to the day he was traded on June 29, 2016.
Hockey players do tend to be the strong, silent type. Much like Marion Morrison, the man we knew as John Wayne the movie star - that's how I will always think of Shea Weber.
He became a part of the Predators at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft - that June weekend when Nashville hospitality really captured the League.
Shortly thereafter, as the draftees were making their way to their selecting team's suites, I had the chance to meet "my hockey son."
I guess we could say that Weber filled out some after that, couldn't we? He is listed at 6-foot-4, weighing in at 236 pounds. He's feared around the NHL for his physical presence, and his shot has been clocked at more than 108 miles per hour. When a player attempts to block it, bystanders will praise that player for his bravery and question his intelligence at the same time.
The Preds lost Weber for 28 games during the 2007-08 season due to injury. He returned to action in January of that season, and after his first period back, he joined Terry Crisp for the "quick hit" interview in the first intermission.
The team's captain from 2010 onward, Weber was the face of the Nashville Predators - and here he was the voice as well:
A member of the Canadian Olympic team in both 2010 and 2014 and a postseason NHL All-Star selection four times, Weber has received many honors over the course of his career. One proud moment came at the Nashville Sports Council's Celebration of Champions in March of 2011:
Finally, at the 2016 NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas, he also won the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
The only defenseman in team history to record a hat trick (Dec. 5, 2015 at Detroit), Weber has scored more goals than any defenseman in team history (and is the second-leading goal scorer as well). Some of his blasts were truly memorable:
He acted as a great host/ambassador at last January's All Star festivities here.
Weber left us with many great memories, including the handshake line with Detroit at the end of the 2012 playoff series. One leader passed the torch to the other, as he shook hands with Red Wings Captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who had just played his last NHL game:
For many of us who never got the chance to say goodbye to Weber, this is my chance to say that - along with "welcome back" and "thank you for the memories!"