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 of Weber. “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.”
Subban is already making a splash in Nashville, where he will be featured in a Bridgestone Tire national ad campaign. On Sunday, Subban turns his attention to the NFL as the “Honorary 12th Titan” for Tennessee’s home game against the Indianapolis Colts.
CATCHING UP WITH CARPENTER
With his three kids now out of high school, former NHL star Bobby Carpenter is considering a return to coaching.
Though nothing’s firm, Carpenter expects to start at the American Hockey League ranks to re-familiarize himself with the job. Carpenter had 320 goals and 728 points in 1,178 career games over 21 NHL seasons split over six teams, including his final six in New Jersey, where he won a Stanley Cup in 1995. After retiring in 1999, he won two more Cups as a Devils assistant coach.
Carpenter was in Buffalo recently to watch his daughter, Alexandra, make her National Women’s Hockey League debut with the Boston Pride.
At Boston College, Alexandra Carpenter was college hockey’s top player in 2014-15, and she was a member of the U.S. team that won a silver medal at the Sochi Games. She already has four goals and five points in five games for the Pride.
“This is entertaining,” Carpenter said of the second-year league during Boston’s eventual 4-1 win over the Buffalo Beauts.
Before the game, Beauts defenseman Harrison Browne announced he identified as a male in becoming the league’s first transgender player.
“I don’t have any problems with any of that at all. It just makes everything more interesting,” Carpenter said of Browne. “It’s such an open world.”
BEHIND THE MASK
Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby raised more than $20,000 for charity in auctioning off his Team Canada World Cup of Hockey mask, the National Hockey League Players’ Association announced. The money will go toward two of Canadian rocker Gord Downie’s charitable foundations. Downie, The Tragically Hip frontman, is being treated for a brain tumor.
Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa scored his 500th goal and 1,093th point in his 1,240th career game in a 7-4 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
GAME OF THE WEEK
The San Jose Sharks travel to Pittsburgh on Thursday in a rematch of last season’s Stanley Cup Final, which the Penguins won in six games.