The news is not altogether unexpected or surprising, but it does carry the weight of a ton of bricks hearing it from Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin. Canadiens captain Shea Weber will play NHL hockey again. Bergevin also sternly ripped his team for their winless start.
Bergevin’s suit was not loud on Wednesday. However, his words sounded the alarm that things must change.
First, the Weber news.
“He hasn’t resumed training. (The injuries) are still in rehab. I talked to him a couple of days ago, and I’m probably going to talk to him in a couple of days, also,” Bergevin began. “So (playing) is nothing that’s in the near future, at all. It’s still in the rehab process for him.”
Shea Weber had ankle tendon surgery in 2018. He also missed two weeks with an ankle injury in February 2020. Despite the severe ankle injury, the fierce leader pushed the Canadiens past the Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final.
The “at all” emphasis provided several clues to the situation. Bergevin conceded Weber’s leadership would be a positive addition during this challenging time and perhaps the lack of it is a contributing factor to the 0-4-0 start.
“It’s hard when you’re not here. I think Shea’s presence means a lot. It says a lot,” said Bergevin. “Sometimes, just his look–the way he looks at the team and the players would send a message. And that’s hard to do from Kelowna…
I have a plan in mind that I’m trying to layout for Shea. Until I do that, I’m going to keep that with me…”
Weber’s ankle may be beyond repair, at least in a hockey context. Bergevin said the ankle specialist does not believe surgery will make it better, and that’s why Weber remains in rehab.
“No, no, certainly not this year,” Bergevin said of Weber’s future. “(Playing again), I think it’s a long shot, but you never know. But I’d say it’s a long shot.”
Weber’s 14-year contract with a $7.857 AAV runs through 2026. LTIR through the end of the deal is a likely outcome, much like Chris Pronger and Marian Hossa.
Montreal Canadiens Changes:
Alexander Romanov and Jeff Petry comprise the Montreal Canadiens’ top defence pairing. Ben Chariot and David Savard complete the top four, and perhaps that will remain unless Bergevin becomes impatient with the Canadiens listless start and begins making changes.
Bergevin downplayed any notions that he would make a change, just for the sake of change. Salary cap space is prohibitive for those types of moves.
However, the GM did not spare the rod with his team.
“As I’m watching, I don’t like our puck support. I just don’t like it. I see we’re just trying to do too much. Then (Tuesday night), I saw for the first time, after (the San Jose Sharks) scored the first goal, we got tight. That’s a team that shows it has no confidence…,” Bergevin said.
Later in the 20-minute presser, Bergevin laid some damning criticism.
“I’m trying to be in their head, which is impossible. But from my experience, in watching, it’s like taking the easy way out. (They’re thinking) it’s going to come easy now. We had success, so we’re just going to go out there and have success…”