BROSSARD, Quebec -- Shea Weber was captain of the Nashville Predators for six seasons, one of the most accomplished defensemen in the NHL and a perennial Norris Trophy contender who has somehow never won one.
Yet following the blockbuster trade that sent him to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman P.K. Subban, it was not the massive void Weber would be leaving in Nashville that was a question.
It was how he would be able to replace one of the most popular players in Montreal.
"I'm not P.K. Subban, I'm not going to try to be," Weber said. "I'm going to bring my hard work and attitude and try to bring this team some wins. The biggest thing I want to do is win. I know that they've got a good base there, obviously one of the best goaltenders in the world, some top-end forwards, and I'm just excited to be joining that group."
Of course, the Canadiens don't want Weber to be Subban, otherwise they wouldn't have made the trade. General manager Marc Bergevin was happy to add the leadership, toughness, size and booming slap shot Weber brings to the Canadiens.
And although Canadiens fans were expressing their outrage over the trade on social media, they were the biggest reasons why Weber was excited to continue his career in Montreal.
"I'm looking forward to how passionate the fans are," he said. "When you go in [to Bell Centre], what everyone talks about when you look at the schedule is, 'When do we play in Montreal?' Guys look forward to going there because they know it's going to be loud, it's packed, and the fans are just very, very passionate."
Weber was the first Predators draft pick to become captain when he was named to the position after the 2009-10 season. Nashville entered the NHL in 1998, and Weber was drafted five years later, in the second round (No. 49) of the 2003 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut Jan. 6, 2006, and it didn't take very long for Weber to become the face of the Predators in a non-traditional hockey market.
He went through many lean seasons in Nashville and is now leaving just as the Predators appear primed to be a contending team for years.
"It was emotional thinking about all I've been through," he said. "I really grew up there. It's been 11 years I spent there, so it would be not human of me to say I'm not going to miss it. But at the same time, it's in the past now and I've got to look at what's ahead of me and the situation I'm going to in Montreal. They're looking to win and they're looking to do all the right things to put a winning team together, so I'm excited to be a part of it."
In light of how much time Weber spent in Nashville, his final game in a Predators uniform was extremely disappointing. The Predators lost 5-0 to the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round, and Weber was on the ice for every San Jose goal.
"Of course you think about it, you look back," he said. "But that's one game, that doesn't sum up a career nor a year. It was a tough game, it was a tough game for a lot of people. It happens in every sport where it just happens that night is not your night. Things don't bounce, those split-second decisions you make out there are the wrong ones, and everything just seems to stockpile on you. Earlier on, it might have affected me a little bit more, but I think I've come to realize that you have to learn from it and hopefully improve and become better from it."
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