Shea Weber quickly making his presence felt in Montreal
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Shea Weber didn't have to turn far to get the lowdown on Montreal upon learning he had been traded to the Canadiens.
Standing immediately next to Weber was good friend and former Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges, who was staring at his phone in disbelief. The two had just finished a boating excursion with their sons in Kelowna, British Columbia, and left their phones in the car when the blockbuster trade that sent P.K. Subban to Nashville was completed on June 29.
''We parked the boat and grabbed our phones and both were blown up by calls and messages,'' recalled Gorges, who now plays for the Sabres. ''It was kind of comical, to be honest with you.''
Once the shock wore off, Gorges told Weber what to expect in making the switch from relative anonymity in Music City to Montreal, one of the NHL's most passionate hockey markets.
''You'll be under the microscope,'' Gorges said. ''People are going to know everything that's going on.''
Gorges also knew that if anyone could handle the added attention, it was Weber, an 11-year NHL veteran and six-year captain of the Predators.
''He kind of just makes people around him follow him,'' Gorges said. ''He's got this intimidating presence to him where if you aren't going as hard as he is, you better watch out.''
Though both are elite NHL defensemen in their own regard, Weber and Subban are polar opposites in personality and styles of play.
The Predators gave up toughness but got younger by adding a 27-year-old play-maker.
For Montreal, the trade made sense for a variety of reasons.
Subban was the Canadiens' most popular player and highly regarded for his charitable work, but his defensive lapses and outgoing personality didn't exactly fit coach Michel Therrien's blue-collar philosophy or preferred leadership style.
The 31-year Weber is a big-bodied player who is sound defensively and adds offense with a blistering shot. Just as important is Weber's no-nonsense approach.
''He's got some maturity, he's got some experience. He's a true leader,'' Therrien said. ''And we've got some young kids who are going to learn to become pros because this guy is all business.''
That wasn't always the case with Subban, who drew attention to himself through his on-ice celebrations or off-ice run-ins with celebrity.
Weber, by comparison, is an introvert. Shortly before Montreal's season-opening 4-1 win at Buffalo last week, Weber wasn't yet ready to assess the differences between Montreal and Nashville.
''I've only been here a couple of weeks so it's tough to tell,'' Weber said. ''I'm going to prepare the same way I have over my career and try to be the same player and the same guy they brought me in here to be.''
Captain Max Pacioretty has already noticed a difference.
''I've seen it from the second he walked into the locker room. He has a presence,'' Pacioretty said. ''Every team is looking to improve their locker room and making sure they have the right guys off the ice. Ours is just magnified because of the market we play in.''