Shea Weber has made it to the Stanley Cup Final, 10 words that Nashville Predators’ fans have been waiting to hear for years. It took 16 seasons, and even if he doesn’t play for the Predators anymore – he was traded in the 2016 offseason to the Montreal Canadiens for PK Subban – it doesn’t mean he isn’t still a fan favorite in Smashville.
The Predators were eliminated in the first round of the 2021 postseason by the Carolina Hurricanes. Since then, fans have been rooting for the underdog Canadiens and Weber, who wore the “C” for six seasons in Nashville.
Weber’s Legacy in Nashville
Weber played 763 games with the Predators with 443 points. He has the most power-play goals in franchise history with 80 and holds the record for most franchise shots with 2,052. The 6-foot-4 defenseman was named the organization’s sixth captain in 2010 after Jason Arnott was traded to the New Jersey Devils.
During Weber’s time in Nashville, he, along with goaltender Pekka Rinne, founded the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund, which has donated more than $3 million to cancer research. Weber frequently visited the Children’s Hospital, most often without a camera crew or reporters. He visited with doctors, hospital staff, and patients and their families. He also became friends with Mike Maguire, a 51-year-old decorated Special Olympics athlete with Down syndrome whom he met through Best Buddies Tennessee. He was one of Weber’s first calls when he found out he was traded to Montreal.
“Shea keeps texting him and they FaceTime, too. He thinks of Shea and he texts him, and Shea answers almost immediately. He always answers Mike when he texts,” said Maguire’s mother Dee. “He’s so happy that Shea keeps in contact with him and is a part of his life. Mike doesn’t have a lot of friends because he’s one of the older Special Olympics athletes. He counts Shea as one of his good friends. He’s been a leader in Mike’s life, too. Mike looks up to him.”
The Trade Montreal and Reaction
On June 29, 2016, the NHL landscape changed after a series of blockbuster trades. Within one hour, the New Jersey Devils shipped Adam Larsson to the Edmonton Oilers for Taylor Hall, and Subban was traded to Smashville for Weber. Fans of both franchises were shocked and disappointed; Subban was a fan favorite in Montreal, and Weber was the go-to guy in Nashville. Even the most excited fans were saddened that it took Weber to bring in Subban.
“We completed today an important transaction which I am convinced will make the Canadiens a better team,” Marc Bergevin said at the time. “It was also one of the most difficult decisions I had to make as general manager of the Montreal Canadiens. In Shea Weber, we get a top-rated NHL defenseman with tremendous leadership and a player who will improve our defensive group as well as our power play for many years to come.”
Weber’s Time in Montreal
Weber was immediately given an “A” on his sweater when he arrived in Montreal, to join the Canadiens’ leadership group alongside Brendan Gallagher, Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec. He put up respectable offensive numbers in that first season with 42 points in 78 games. Not only was he a welcome addition to the blue line, but he was also a breath of fresh air in the locker room.
“He’s been a captain in this league for a long time,” Gallagher said at the time. “The leadership that he brings, the experience that he brings, it’s had a settling component to our group… He has that presence. He has that respect of his teammates in this locker room that if he says or does something, people are going to want to follow him” (from “Shea Weber faces emotional return to Nashville,” The Tennessean, 1/2/17).
Forever a Fan Favorite in Smashville
Weber was drafted by the Predators in 2003 and played 11 seasons in Smashville. He helped mold their blue line and was a role model for Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, and current captain Roman Josi. “He (Josi) had a chance to play with Shea for years, and they were, in my opinion, the best defensive pairing in the league,” Rinne said in a 2017 interview.
Weber left a lasting legacy on and off the ice in Nashville. He was the face of the franchise for years and was a role model for their current roster. After years of chasing hockey’s ultimate prize, he is now presented with an opportunity to hoist the Stanley Cup in Montreal. Fans in Nashville will be cheering on the 35-year-old defenseman as the Canadiens try to make a miraculous comeback in the Stanley Cup Final.
Kristy has been contributing to The Hockey Writers since March of 2021. She is thrilled to be putting her journalism degree to use and covers both the Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils. Kristy is also a co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly Youtube show produced by THW. You can follow her journey on Twitter @InStilettosBlog and Instagram SkatingInStilettos.