For the last three years he’s had to speak about his desire to crack the Buffalo Sabres lineup and attain a permanent spot. Now the 22-year-old defenseman is ready for some action.
“My whole mindset is to be here with this organization,” he said. “They drafted me, they know the most about me and they’ve put the most time and money into me. I want to be here and I want to help this organization win.”
Weber has played the last three seasons with the Sabres’ American Hockey League affiliate, and has generally been on the bubble when it comes to garnering a full-time role. Holding him back has been a few injuries along the way – including shoulder surgery and an intense rehab during the 2008-09 season.
But finally, after battling through his respective ailments for the better part of two seasons, Weber was finally able to enjoy a full year with the Portland Pirates in the 2009-10 campaign. There, he registered 21 points (5+16), a plus-18 rating and 153 penalty minutes in 80 games. His performance even earned him a spot on the AHL All-Star Team.
He’s hoping that his recent accolades will benefit him as training camp continues in Buffalo.
“Playing a full season last year, you’re able to do some things in the American League that you might not get away with at the next level,” Weber said. “Right now I’m just trying to get my feet moving, get skating.
“It’s going to be a tough training camp. They’ve stated that before… there are nine guys ready to go on defense that are NHL ready and I’m up to the challenge. We’ve had this conversation three years in a row now of almost being here. I’m tired of almost being here. I want to be here.”
He’ll have to battle for his spot. New additions to the back end include Shaone Morrisonn and Jordan Leopold
thanks to free agency; and with young players like Andrej Sekera
and Chris Butler on the rise, it won’t come easy for Weber.
| |We’ve had this conversation three years in a row now of almost being here. I’m tired of almost being here. I want to be here. - Mike Weber
“I’ve kind of had to battle a little bit, but I kind of liked that,” he said. “I’ve always been someone who has scrapped and battled in the corners and earned my ice time and earned my way, so why change it?
“You can’t look at it as competition; you have to look at it as a future teammate hopefully.”
He’s hoping to turn some heads as preseason games approach and show the coaching staff that he’s ready to jump into the play.
“That’s what they stressed down in the minors,” he said. “For us to get up and get our feet moving and make a nice pass or create offense. It’s something out of necessity. This is what the team wants and I want to be here in Buffalo so you have to adapt your game in some ways but stay true to yourself in other ways. I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to get here.”
That includes letting his actions do the talking.
“Mentally I’m an NHL player and I’m going to be here. I’m just taking every day at a time,” Weber said. “It’s all stepping stones and a building process to get myself into the lineup and to stay in the lineup.”