Two seasons ago, Predators defenseman Shea Weber
was positioned to take the NHL by storm.
After finishing up his sophomore season in 2006-2007 with 40 points and a trip to the NHL Young-Stars Game, Weber was expected to have an even bigger year in 2007-2008. But just 2:19 into the first period of Nashville’s 07-08 season opener against the Colorado Avalanche, Weber fell and dislocated his kneecap—an injury that kept him out of the lineup for six weeks.
Shortly after his return to the lineup, Weber injured his leg, which sidelined him for an additional 11 games. The injuries limited his ability to find any real consistency through the first half of the season; as a result Weber had a frustrating go—finishing the season with 20 points.
The start of the 2008-2009 season spawned many questions regarding the talented defenseman. Which Weber would be in the line up—the sophomore sensation from two seasons ago or the player who struggled to find his stride last year?
With just under twenty games beneath his belt this season, Weber has proven that he is no one-hit wonder. He currently leads all NHL defensemen in goals (8) and points (18) and is tied for first in goals and second in points for the Predators. His efforts have been noticed across the league as he was placed on the ballot for the 2008-2009 NHL All-Star game.
“I think it is a wise choice by the NHL,” said head coach Barry Trotz of Weber’s nomination. “I think they recognize that he is a really outstanding talent and I think they have recognized that he is off to a good start. He could be one of those guys that has a terrific year.”
The humble defenseman admits that the nomination is “something pretty special” but also that he is trying not to think too much about it. His main goal at the moment is to help his team be successful. Though he appreciates the honor in his selection, first and foremost is his team.
“Weber is a guy that has a lot of responsibility in his personality,” said Trotz. “Last year he didn’t have a great year and he felt responsible not only to himself but to the team to have a better year. Last year was a bit of an anomaly where nothing went right for him. But he prepared himself over the summer and came in with a really strong mindset that he would have a good year.”
Weber’s hard work has proven to pay off. He is garnering league-wide attention for his strong play and his inclusion on the All-Star ballot further proves that Weber is only getting better. Opposing teams are starting to put more pressure on him during games, hoping to mount a stand against his all-around potential and staggeringly-powerful slap shot. Even so, Weber doesn’t seem too concerned about said pressure.
“It is just something you have to battle through and become a better player because of,” said Weber.
Weber may have felt like he had something to prove after his inconsistent season in 2007-2008, but he has made up for it in leaps and bounds. Not only has he stepped up his game on the ice but he is also serving as a great example for the younger players on the team.
“I think you always have something to prove,” said Weber. “We are getting older and we have a good group of core players. As we get older we are going to take on more responsibility. We’ve got to prove that we can do the best job we can do.”
This year’s NHL All-Star-break festivities will take place the weekend of January 23-25 in Montreal, Quebec in celebration of the Canadiens' 100th season. Voting is now open and can be accessed through vote.nhl.com