Those around the Nashville Predators organization were already aware. Now, an NHL legend has taken notice.
Preds Captain Shea Weber was honored as the recipient of the 2016 Mark Messier Leadership Award on Wednesday night as part of the 2016 NHL Awards from the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. Weber was personally selected by Messier for the award, beating out finalists John Tavares of the New York Islanders and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
“It’s pretty special to win it,” Weber said. “From an all-time great leader like Mark Messier, it means a lot, especially with the guys I was nominated with who easily could’ve won it. It’s definitely special.”
Messier, who is second in all-time NHL scoring with 1,887 points, is widely regarded as one of the best to ever play the game, and perhaps the best captain hockey has ever seen. As someone who is well versed in the field, Messier saw plenty of reason to bestow Weber with the award.
“The award really represents a player’s success and determination on the ice, but also how they conduct themselves off the ice as well,” Messier said. “We have so many players doing tremendous things in our communities, inspiring young people and being role models, and it’s a huge responsibility for our players to do that. Shea has really proven over the years that not only has he been a consistent defender and role model on the ice, but his initiatives in the community have been very strong and he’s a well-deserved nominee.”
Preds General Manager David Poile, who drafted Weber back in 2003, has seen the blueliner evolve into one of the game’s premier defensemen today. In addition to his abilities on and off the ice, there’s no other player he’d rather have sporting the ‘C.’
“Shea is a great story,” Poile recalled last week. “If you look at the  Draft, he’s a second round pick, he was a guy that was just playing for Kelowna and getting better and better… Shea is, I think in terms of the leadership part, he’s pretty humble, pretty shy. I think he’s getting better every year at it.
“It’s one thing when he talks to [the media] and gives you what he can give you, it’s a lot different than when he’s with the players and the coaches and how he speaks in the room, what he does with our players and how he leads. You draw up what you want in terms of what he does for us, I think he does all of those things. Our room is in order with our players. Our players are prepared partly because of our coaching staff, but partly because of leadership, and that all comes from Shea.”
Named Captain on July 8, 2010, Weber has completed six seasons with the ‘C’ on his jersey, the only Preds draftee to captain the team. Weber, who was drafted by the Predators in the second round (49th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, has played 763 games for the club, second in franchise history. The Sicamous, British Columbia, native also ranks second all-time in franchise history in goals (166) and slots third in all-time assists (277) and points (443).
Weber has previously been nominated for the James Norris Memorial Trophy three times as the League’s Top Defenseman, receiving nominations in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Weber is the third Preds player to be honored with an NHL Award; center Mike Fisher won the 2012 NHL Foundation Award and former Preds forward Steve Sullivan received the 2009 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.