(Picture Source – Icon Sportswire / Getty)
When Shea Weber arrived in Montreal he was welcomed with mixed emotions. Some fans like myself were ecstatic at the thought of having Man Mountain patrolling the back end, while others felt that the team traded away a budding star who was on his way to being the face of the franchise. However as time passed, no matter what your stance was on the trade, Weber eventually won over the hearts of the entire fanbase.
At the time of the trade analytics were beginning to become ‘mainstream’ and a lot of fans and media loved to throw numbers around that they knew nothing about. All signs were pointing towards a new age NHL and PK Subban was an up and coming two-way defenseman with exceptional offensive skill. Where as Weber was an established vet and known as one of the most productive defensive defenseman in the league. He was and remains one of the most feared players in the league and his slap shot (especially the one-timer) was/is lethal.
The main differences between the two that people loved to point out was their age and speed. The main point of criticism was that Subban was on the rise in his career where Weber was on the wrong side of the trend and was only going to get older and slower.
Subban had quickly won the affection of the Habs fanbase with his fearless and sometimes reckless style of play, but it didn’t matter because fans loved it. His performance in the playoffs against the Bruins in 2014 will remain one of his one of most iconic moments with the team. That run to the Eastern Conference Final was the most success the team had in the new millennium; that was until this year. On top of that his commitment to the Children’s hospital cemented his legacy in the city.
These are massive shoes to fill, even for Man Mountain, but Weber has never backed down from a fight.
It took a bit of time for Weber to get going due to injuries but just like a fine Wine, Weber’s value to the team only increased over time. Stepping outside of the numbers for a few minutes, it’s important to put a few things into context at that point in time for the Habs. First and foremost, Carey Price had just suffered his first major injury and had little in terms of muscle in front of him. The Habs dressing room was a bit of a disaster with some clear clicks emerging. The final key piece of all this was that The General, Andrei Markov was 38 (if my math is correct).
Weber fixes all of these problems himself. With Markov leaving the team was losing their pillar, the guy that they could throw any one next to and develop them next to him. No disrespect to Subban but he is a risk/reward player, that’s how you get the most out of him but the problem is that you cannot develop a prospect next to him and as a GM you are pigeon holed into getting that right player next to him. Weber on the other had has a list of players who he has made appear to be a first pairing defenseman, or who has developed from prospect to super star.
As for the dressing room, at the time of the trade Weber was fresh off winning the Mark Messier Leadership Award. The award for being the best leader in the league and Bergevin brought that into the locker room. Looking back to five years ago to now, it’s hard to argue with the results on this one. Again no shot at PK but Weber is that guy and you bring that guy in for a reason.
Finally, what Canadiens fan could forget the Chris Kreider incident. How many of these same fans remember the team’s reaction to this? Nothing, absolutely nothing. When you are a team built from the crease out, both from a skill and financial investment stand point, this is unacceptable. There is no denying that back in 2014 and again this year in 2021, Price was the primary reason that the Habs got as far they did. How many times did you see any opposing player get anywhere near Price this year? This is not on Shea alone, but as mentioned earlier he is the most feared player in the league. When you have that on your side and Carey in nets, you are ready to stand up to any one.
Oh and by the way for the strictly number lovers, since the trade Weber is 8th in Goals, 2nd in Power Play Goals and 33rd in Points. His points per game (0.53) is hair above PK Subban (0.52) while playing an additional minute per game (Source – NHL.com). Weber did all of this while being on the ‘wrong side of 30’. Given all the intangibles that Weber brings to the table, this trade was a hands down win for the Habs. Whether or not we’ve seen Weber play his last game, he has restored a winning and self-respecting culture to a team that had lost their way.
It is important to remember that he is Man Mountain for a reason. Just for a moment consider Weber’s level of play in the playoffs with all of those injuries. He is a warrior and you may call this wishful thinking, but I doubt this is the last we’ve seen of Weber.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hot Sauce Family and check us out on Youtube for all of our Podcasts and videos. In this week’s episode of Not Sauce For Work the boys talk Stephen A, NBA Finals, Richard Sherman and the Canadiens.