sat at his locker with a smile on his face. The morning skate had just concluded and a couple of teammates threw pieces of tape his way. They joked around, teased him a little bit about the media gathering in front of him.
It’s one of the ways NHL players welcome back a teammate.
Nashville’s All-Star defenseman was cleared to play tonight when the Preds host the Stars at 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena. Weber has missed the past four games with a concussion suffered on Dec. 23 at Dallas.
“Everything is fine,” Weber said. “I wouldn’t play if it’s not. I’m sure I will try to get into it early. I’m definitely not going to change the way I play … The guys have done really well. Hopefully I can fit back in.”
Weber’s recuperation process included working out on his own and going through a battery of tests on a daily basis. He began skating with the team earlier this week and did not feel any symptoms as the week wore on.
“It seemed like a long time, even though it was fairly quick,” Weber said. “It was one step at a time, one day at a time. Not being around the guys is the biggest thing. You’re like a family, and then you have to watch them play and fight hard. It’s tough to sit there and watch.”
Nashville coach Barry Trotz said the biggest issue tonight is earning two points against the Stars. Dallas’ Mark Fistric is the player who leveled the blow on Weber on Dec. 23 which caused the concussion, and Trotz said he has stressed to his players that they focus on the win and not revenge.
Nashville went 3-1-0 without Weber and relied on several defensemen – including rookies Roman Josi
and Ryan Ellis
– to help fill the role. Weber’s return, however, will help stabilize the unit and bring more consistency on defense and offense as Nashville tries to climb the standings.
“He would boost any team, not just us,” Trotz said. “Trust me, he’s an elite defenseman that you don’t really replace. He’s excited to be back.”
Weber ranks second among all NHL defensemen with eight goals and is third with 29 points. He has a +14 plus/minus rating, which is tied for eighth among defensemen.