Hockey fans will be hockey fans. They will cheer their team, they will have their favourite players and those they dislike. At times, they will be critical but deep down, they love their favourites. Sometimes, they’ll take things a bit too far. When you’re a Montreal Canadiens’ fan though, one thing you share with hundreds of thousands of people is a passion. Many have discovered the Habs’ captain since THE trade. And they love what they’ve seen. That’s because captain Shea Weber leaves no one indifferent.
I am a blogger, not a journalist. I am not writing for a living, but rather out of passion. While I try hard not to be, I am biased. I too have my favourite players and those I don’t like as much. And like any other Habs’ fan, I have an opinion and rarely hold the ultimate truth. Because there are three truth: what they say, what I say, and more often than not, the real truth is somewhere in between. I don’t speak for the Canadiens or their players nor do I want to. But I stand by what I believe. And I believe that Shea Weber is in the same class as the greatest captains this franchise has had… Stanley Cup or not!
I remember watching Weber skate in Kelowna for the Rockets. I lived in Penticton at the time and would drive the 45 minutes to see him play. Back then, the Rockets had a stacked team. I also remember Josh Gorges, Duncan Keith, Blake Comeau, Tyler Spurgeon and Troy Brodie. Weber was only one of several good players back then and I could have never imagined him becoming as dominant as he’s been in his 1,000 (and counting) NHL career games.
It’s while he was back in Nashville playing for the Predators that I started being a fan of his. For one thing, my favourite players are ones that can do anything. Being “old school”, I am definitely drawn by those who can play a physical game. To put things in Habs’ perspective, I was a huge fan of Larry Robinson and, to a lesser point, Bob Gainey. I also grew up idolizing Chris Nilan. For the longest time, Jarome Iginla was my favourite player in the NHL. Then it became Weber and Ryan Getzlaf. You see the pattern here. And yes, they should be able to drop the gloves if or when need be.
When the Predators’ captain was traded to the Canadiens, I was ecstatic. When your very favourite player in the NHL is going to play for your favourite team, who could blame me. So you can imagine how much I would clash with the severe and extreme overreaction by many, many Habs’ fans upset by THE trade. Living out west, I was privileged to watch him play as much as possible and I knew then that the Canadiens were getting the better all-around player.
Here’s the analogy I liked describing to Habs’ fans back then. P.K. Subban was a good player. A flashy and high risk player who would lead the rush with the puck. A poor boy Erik Karlsson if you wish. Weber was more traditional where he would pass the puck to forwards, and come in to support them as the fourth man in. Further, he knew how and when to pick his spots. Then you add the leadership, the physicality and the shutdown abilities and you have by far the most complete player in this trade. But too many Habs’ fans couldn’t see that. They were too focused on hating GM Marc Bergevin to see past it.
Back in September 2016, Montreal native Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who has been playing against Weber since joining the NHL and who has played with him at the 2014 Winter Olympics, made a mockery of reporters and fans who were questioning and who had yet to get over that trade:
We haven’t move on yet? Fans are still disappointed? They never saw Weber play? He played in 2010, 2014… no one watched the Olympics evidently. He’s one of the best defensemen.
1,000 games tributes
Weber, a Sicamous, B.C native who makes Kelowna his summer residence, played his 1,000th regular season’s game against the… Vancouver Canucks. The Canadiens won that game 5-3 and the Habs’ captain was his regular solid self. After the game, Josh Anderson told reporters that they wanted the two points for Shea. Players play for him and he has the utmost respect from everyone around the league. That’s not something that comes easily. Respect is something that’s earned over time.
The Canadiens, as they often do, put something classy and thoughtful to pay tribute to their captain. Instead of describing them, I will put the videos below for you to watch. He will receive his silver stick from Habs’ management prior to Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators, when the Habs will play their first ever game in their blue Reverse-Retro gear.
Please see below, for your enjoyment, the videos published by the Canadiens to honour their captain, our captain, Shea Weber. Go Habs Go!