Shea Weber made his first public appearance as a member of the Montreal Canadiens sporting an ‘A’ on his jersey. Weber will be facing high expectations and comparisons to P.K. Subban in Montreal, but he’s only worried about becoming “a piece of a winning formula.”
Weber, 30, made his first public appearance as a member of the Canadiens Tuesday at coach Michel Therrien’s charity golf tournament, and he said repeatedly that his main goal in Montreal is to win games and help the team be as successful as possible. Though he understands the love Montreal has for P.K. Subban, he said he can’t be concerned with filling Subban’s shoes.
“I’m not worried about that,” Weber said. “I’m here to help this team win games, and I think we’ve put together a really good team, a competitive team, that can win this year. I’m looking forward to fitting in with this group. It’s an exciting time to be here.”
The connections between Weber and Subban are sure to be drawn this coming campaign, and there’s a good chance the link between the two will last for the remainder of their careers. Such is the reality of a blockbuster trade that sees one of the top Western Conference defensemen, Weber, dealt for a star Eastern Conference blueliner in Subban. But while others may be paying attention to the point-by-point, game-by-game comparisons of the two players in 2016-17, Weber said the statistics won’t matter.
“I’ve had slow starts, I’ve had fast starts and it all seems to work out to the same thing,” Weber said. “Thankfully I’ve been fairly consistent throughout my career. It’s not even about the stats. The biggest thing is winning games. As long as we’re winning games, I couldn’t care less if I’ve got a point or not. If we’re winning, that’s the biggest thing.”
Weber will play a big part in the team’s success from the first moment he steps foot on the ice, too. If it wasn’t clear how important Weber was going to be to the team at the time of the trade or how much the Canadiens are expecting out of Weber, it was made all the more evident when he was handed an ‘A’. Captain for the past six seasons in Nashville, Weber said he was grateful to come into Montreal with the responsibility of being an alternate captain, but he also pointed out that it means he’s here to work as a support system for Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty.
“Max is the captain,” Weber said. “We’re all going to support him. That’s the thing. Everyone around has to buy into the system, buy into the program, and everything goes well.”
From the sounds of things, Weber buying in won’t be an issue. Asked about his role, Weber said he hopes it’s much the same as it was in Nashville — top-pairing minutes and a big part of the power play — but he added he’s willing to do whatever it takes. More specifically, Weber said he wants to “fit in and be a piece of a winning formula.” Montreal clearly sees him doing both, and Weber said it’s exciting to be wanted enough that a team makes a significant trade to acquire you.
“They traded for you, so they want you,” Weber said. “Obviously you want to come here, be a piece and be a part of what they’re going for. They made some good acquisitions this off-season that are going to help push this team forward, some good character guys. To fit in with the pieces that they have, with a healthy Carey Price, it’s going to be a good season.”
Beyond winning, though, Weber said he’s looking forward to being a part of such a historic franchise and playing for an Original Six team. Plus, after the travel the Predators went through during the last post-season, having an Eastern Conference schedule is a nice change of pace. There’s also the matter of playing in front of the Bell Centre crowd and in what Weber called “the mecca of hockey.”
“Playing on the road here is one thing, but being able to play here in front of these fans — you just get chills and shivers thinking about it,” Weber said. “Everyone that I’ve played with circles the date on the calendar when you’re going to Montreal, so let alone to play here for 41 games is going to pretty special.”
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.