There’s no reason for Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber to play through the pain. Returning to practice on Wednesday, Weber has been battling through a lower-body injury, having already missed seven games this season.
Weber Not 100%
The question needs to be asked: What’s a few more in the grand scheme of things? Seriously, especially this season of all seasons? Set to play tomorrow against the New Jersey Devils, he had missed practice on Tuesday and head coach Claude Julien has admitted he’s not 100%.
Even Weber admitted as much, saying, “Nobody plays at 100%. Everyone feels different sorts of pain and finds a way and you just got to get your job done.”
The thing is, Weber clearly hasn’t been able to get the job done, with the missed games and such. And he really shouldn’t be worrying about playing at 80 or even 90%, not when Weber’s about as valuable a Habs commodity as there is.
Is the Tank On for Habs?
By now, everyone knows how bleak the playoff situation is for the Habs. They’re five points out of the last wild-card spot (New York Rangers, who have one game in hand) and two back of the Boston Bruins for the last Atlantic Division one. The Bruins have four games in hand, though… meaning those 2 points could conceivably turn into 10.
If it takes 95 points to make the playoffs, the Habs need to play .637 hockey from here on out. To put that figure in the proper perspective, the Metropolitan Division-leading Columbus Blue Jackets have only been playing .629 hockey. In other words, the playoffs are no longer a realistic goal for the Habs.
Obviously these players are professionals and words like “tank” and sayings like “throw in the towel” aren’t likely in their collective vocabulary. “Live to fight another day” should be, and, with Weber under contract until 2026 when he’ll be turning 41, there are a lot of days left that management needs to take into consideration.
Eight More Years
In a way, the team not politely suggesting to Weber to take some time now to get back to 100% is akin to ex-Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis ludicrously saying about David Clarkson that he’s “not worried about [years] six or seven [of the deal] right now.” This is Year 6 of Weber’s deal now. He has eight more after this one. Clarkson was 29 when he signed his deal. Weber is 32. I could go on.
Of note, Nonis is no longer the Leafs’ general manager. Maybe the reason he wasn’t worrying about the end of Clarkson’s deal was because he knew he wouldn’t have to. If Julien is thinking the same way and Habs GM Marc Bergevin was at the time he acquired Weber, it shines a different light on the P.K. Subban trade, doesn’t it?
Not only would that line of thinking be fiscally and managerially irresponsible. It would also further imply the idea was for the team to compete right away. That’s obviously not happening. And that’s one more reason why Weber should rest up, just like Brendan Gallagher should have a few weeks ago.
Weber is a great player, but he’s not capable of doing it all by himself, at least not like goalie Carey Price could just a few years ago. Neither is he Max Pacioretty, who, on numerous occasions, has shown a propensity to rebound quickly from serious injuries.
That neither of the latter two are performing up to their superheroic standards is further proof that Weber returning right now won’t make much of a difference. Ultimately, there may not be anything left worth saving.
That goes for this season and the rest of his tenure as a Hab if he inadvertently hurts himself to a greater degree by needlessly returning too early. He pretty much has all the time in the world. He should take it.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.