Shea Weber making himself at home with Montreal Canadiens
TERREBONE, Quebec (AP) — Shea Weber knows all about the outrage Montreal Canadiens fans expressed when he was acquired from Nashville for P.K. Subban.
And the big defenseman knows his every move will be scrutinized and compared to the flashy Subban. The 11-year NHL veteran made it clear in his first meeting with the Montreal media since the June 29 trade that none of that will rattle him.
''I'm not really worried about that,'' said Weber, who participated in coach Michel Therrien's charity golf tournament. ''I'm here to help this team win games. I think we've put together a really good team that can compete this year and I'm looking forward to fitting into this group. It's an exciting time. I understand that P.K. is a very popular player here and the fans are really passionate, so hopefully I can come here and help this team win.''
Subban's popularity went beyond his play on the ice. He was equally embraced for his bubbly personality, skillful use of social media and his philanthropy, including a pledge to raise $10 million for the Montreal Children's Hospital. Subban was back in the spotlight last week when he returned to host a charity gala at the Just For Laughs comedy festival.
The low-key Weber's standing as one of the NHL's best and toughest defensemen to play against proved too much to resist for GM Marc Bergevin when Weber's name came up in trade talks.
''We all know what P.K. brought to the team and the city, but we felt that with the experience that Shea Weber has, we're a better team now,'' Therrien said.
Subban is nearly four years younger than Weber, who turns 31 on Sunday. He's faster and a better puck carrier. The 6-foot-4 Weber is bigger, more physical and scores more goals with one of the league's hardest point shots on the power play.
When the trade was made, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews tweeted he was glad to see Weber out of the Western Conference. Forward Jason Pominville of the Minnesota Wild, one of a handful of players from other NHL clubs to take part in the golf tournament, felt the same.
And when asked who he felt won the trade, Pominville joked that: ''I'm in the West, so for sure, I hope it's the Canadiens who won it.''
Weber arrived this week and got to put on his No. 6 Canadiens jersey for the first time as he met some of his new teammates on a visit to the club's training center.
The Canadiens collapsed and missed the playoffs last season after star goalie Carey Price blew out a knee in late November. Management wanted more toughness and leadership for this season, so they traded for Weber and gritty winger Andrew Shaw and also signed skilled Russian winger Alexander Radulov, Weber's former Nashville teammate.
''There were a few areas where we wanted to get better,'' Therrien said. ''A little more grit, more aggressiveness in the way we play.''