It was a blockbuster trade that shook the hockey world on June 29, 2016, when the Montreal Canadiens sent popular defenseman P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators in exchange for another star defender in Shea Weber. The move significantly divided the Habs’ fan base with those who loved the trade on one side and those who felt that then-general manager Marc Bergevin had just made a big mistake.
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Fast forward six years and Weber’s tenure with the Canadiens has officially come to an end after his contract was sent to the Vegas Golden Knights for Evgenii Dadonov. The 36-year-old spent the 2021-22 season on long-term injured reserve and is not expected to play in the NHL again. It’s safe to say that despite the early uproar and the unfortunate ending, the Habs won the now-famous 2016 trade. Here are some of Weber’s most memorable moments during his time in Montreal.
Getting the ‘C’
Known as one of the most respected leaders in the game, Weber was named the 30th captain in franchise history in 2018 after also wearing the ‘C’ with the Predators. He was the natural choice to assume the role following the Max Pacioretty trade and filled it more than admirably.
He did his best to avoid the spotlight in the NHL’s most demanding market, instead choosing to lead by example and in the dressing room. He was a tremendous influence on every one of his teammates, not just the younger ones. He helped build a strong culture where every player felt like they were an important part of the group.
Weber’s absence was a huge contributing factor to the Canadiens’ miserable 2021-22 season because their foundation had been shaken to its core and his impact could not be replaced. The example he set and the wisdom he imparted to the likes of Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, and Alexander Romanov will continue to shape them for the rest of their careers.
A Stanley Cup Final Appearance
Last year, Weber led the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1993 all while knowing that it was his last chance to capture Stanley Cup glory. That memorable playoff run was arguably his best stretch of play with the Habs. He and Ben Chiarot were a dominant shutdown pairing and made life difficult on their opponents.
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Most of all, he got his team to buy into the system that Dominique Ducharme wanted to implement. Everyone was on the same page, everyone was working towards a common goal, and everyone was unified. Following their elimination at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, it was heartwarming to watch Weber’s teammates embrace him. The moment had a feeling of finality to it. They wanted to win for their captain and Carey Price and came up short. It spoke to their admiration for him and how his influence will be felt for many years to come.
The Hardest Shot
In 2020, Weber won the hardest shot competition for the fourth time in his career at the NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis. His winning blast clocked in at 106.5 mph and he might have even been holding back on the shot. His four victories place him third on the all-time list behind Al MacInnis and Zdeno Chara.
During his five seasons with the Habs, he scored 58 goals, many thanks to his wicked shot from the point. He was a weapon on the power play and his shot often created scoring opportunities for his teammates. His 106 career goals with the man advantage rank tenth all-time amongst defensemen.
The 1,000-Game Milestone
In 2021, Weber was awarded the silver stick for reaching the 1,000 games played milestone. For someone who doesn’t like attention, it was probably fitting that the ceremony was held during the COVID-19 pandemic with no fans in the Bell Centre.
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The presentation featured messages from several of his former Predators teammates including Roman Josi and Ryan Suter, as well as his former coach Barry Trotz. Sidney Crosby, who played on Team Canada with Weber, also paid tribute. Leadership, hard work, and generosity were the traits that were most highlighted.
Another of Weber’s noteworthy qualities was his toughness. He was nicknamed ‘Man Mountain’ because of his size, presence, and physicality, but also because nothing ever seemed to phase him on the ice.
Pucks to the face? He barely flinched and was back out for his next shift. During the Canadiens’ 2017-18 season opener against the Buffalo Sabres, he blocked a shot and continued playing for over two months with a torn tendon in his left foot before getting it treated. Playing injured most likely contributed to his career coming to an abrupt end, but his resilience and commitment to his team were something else.
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Weber may not have succeeded in bringing the Stanley Cup back to Montreal, but the fact that one of the most revered players of his era left his mark on the Canadiens, the most decorated franchise in the NHL, is something worth celebrating.