It was back on the 19th of June that the Montreal Canadiens learnt that they would be loosing veteran defensemen Shea Weber for an extended period of time after he opted to undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
The injury occurred back in the middle of December, forcing the newly-named Habs captain to the injured reserve as a direct result of his inability to play while dealing with a completely separate injury, a torn tendon in his left foot which occurred for the first time back in March. Handling both simultaneously throughout the course of the season slowly began to take a toll on the play in Montreal.
Furthermore, just a short time after the 33-year-old’s second operation, general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement that the native of Sicamous, British Columbia was expected to be out for the next five to six months in the midst of his recovery which put the nail in the coffin for head coach Claude Julien and his team.
Moving ahead to the morning of Thursday October 11th in Brossard, the Habs received some rather positive news in learning that Weber had taken to the ice prior to morning practice at the Bell Sports Complex, marking the first he would do so since beginning his rehabilitation, a step in the right direction for his much anticipated return come December at the earliest. According to TSN, he skated on his own and in full uniform for 10 minutes prior to the Habs optional game-day practice.
Taking a quick look at Weber’s limited 2017-18 season, the rearguard appeared in a total of just 26 games played where he managed to post just 16 points, 6 of which were goals, the other 10 assists before being sidelined indefinitely. Though he tried to play through the injury before letting it get the best of him, perhaps Weber surprised many with his lack of all-star production after having put up 43 points in his debut season with the Canadiens.
Weber has yet to sign a negotiate a contract extension of any kind with the Canadiens for the long-term while he remains on a seven-year deal which he signed with the Nashville Predators back in 2012 which includes an annual cap hit of $7.8 million.
As noted by Eric Engels of Sportsnet.ca, Weber is due to earn a total base salary of $110 million at the conclusion of his deal before he looks to settle in with Montreal where he will likely seek similar numbers.
With a contract of this stature still in effect as of now, Weber is ranked as the Canadiens’ second-highest-paid player this season after longtime Canadien Carey Price who has rather high expectations on himself to both rebound and outperform.
Weber on the other hand will surely be feeling a large chunk of the pressure as well as he looks to not only lead the Canadiens in the right direction for the future but to regain his on-ice form to get back to his 50-point norm.
Weber has not seen game action dating back to December 16th in the nation’s capital in Ottawa when he realized during the winter classic which took place on Parliament Hill that it was no longer within his best interest to play right through the pain.
This would also make for the second time in the last three seasons that the Canadiens have lost a star player for the entirety of the season. Back in In 2015-2016, it was goaltender Carey Price who had been lost to a knee injury. However what is interesting to note here in that in both cases, the player was expected back within weeks of the injury, only to see his absence drag on until he was finally shut down for the season.
Weber is a former second-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators back in 2003 and for his career, he owns a combined 189 goals, 312 assists as well as 620 penalty minutes over 13 seasons in the league. This has all happened in over 800 games played in which Weber has recorded well over 500 points collectively.
Taking a look at some of Weber’s career achievements, he is a former recipient of the NHL’s Mark Messier Leadership Award, a six-time NHL All-Star, a former captain of the Nashville Predators as well as a two-time Olympic gold medalist abroad with Team Canada.
Looking at his captaincy and what he will bring to the Canadiens upon his return to the ice, Weber is a figure who is well respected in the club house and is highly thought of by his teammate which include Andrew Shaw and Karl Alzner.
In a statement from general manager Marc Bergevin during his press conference with the media, he said, “It was an obvious choice. We were unanimous and we had the pulse of the room.”
Andrew Shaw was next to speak about the decision where he said, “If it had been put to a vote, he’d have gotten mine.”
As for Alzner, he said, “He’s the stabilizer. He sets the tone at all times. He plays 30 minutes a night and then goes to the gym to work out; if he’s doing it, everyone else needs to do it. He’s the pulse of this team. If he says, ‘Jump,’ we’re all going to jump. And that’s what you need in a leader. You need a guy that commands that type of respect.”
May the excitement start to boil in the Canadiens locker room and in the stands of Centre Bell as the team seeks redemption after a poorly-ended 2017-18 regular season performance in Montreal.