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Be well Beast : See you soon Subbanator

I simply stood there stunned. I couldn’t truly believe what I was reading. I looked for a second verified account on Twitter to confirm. Yep, Pierre LeBrun confirms what Nick Kypreos said moments earlier. So then I just stand there… shaking. Trying to gather thoughts. Form opinions. For 10 minutes I stand there, at work, trying to fathom that Shea Weber, the Captain, the Beast, the man with the bomb shot I love has been traded. Before I dive into the trade itself or the incredible player coming to Nashville in the swap, let’s take a moment to properly talk about Webs.
Shea Weber. A few things pop into mind when I think of him. First is his ability to command respect on the ice. His demeanor, drive, & determination propelled many a Preds game into the win column. I think of a man who, although you would always want to talk to him post-game, you knew you would not get quotes about him. That’s not his style. Ever focused on the team and where they were headed together, it was near impossible for Shea to simply give you a quote about Shea. In the handful of years I had access to the locker room, it became clear that Webs is not what you call a “rah-rah” guy. He’s not going to give the dramatic locker room speech. He will lead with actions and results. The players followed that lead though.
I think about that shot. That hardest in the NHL slap shot that some players literally duck out of the way of. The shot that has injured foe and friendly teammates alike. The shot that if on net, could possibly go through it like what happened in the Olympics.
I think about that mean streak. When Weber gets mad, watch out. It could be a fight or it could be a hit. One way or another if you make Shea mad you will pay. He can totally shut down another player (ask Corey Perry from this years playoffs). He can fight (ask Andreas Lilja how that went when he was with the Red Wings.) He can simply change the tenor of any game on
his own.
I do think about that contract. After being taken to arbitration, some whispered it was hard on Weber to hear his team talk about him that way. As we all know he later got offer sheeted by Philadelphia. The Flyers laid out a ridiculously long contract thinking Nashville would never match. They of course did. I never faulted Weber for that. That’s the business part of the game just like arbitration is. What’s curious is that the contract he signed with Philly is probably why he is not a Pred today.
I truly never thought this day would come. Never imagined the Preds could or Poile would trade Shea. He was the face of the Franchise. Pekka Rinne does get a fair amount of league-wide attention, but no one from the Preds received as much love or recognition as Shea Weber. It seemed Webs was a forever Pred.
Enter Marc Bergevin, GM of the Montreal Canadiens.
After denial and denial that he was shopping superstar D-man P.K. Subban, he heard a name that made him finally think long and hard. A name apparently he couldn’t pass up.
That’s how Shea Weber was traded for P.K. Subban. A simple mention of his name from Poile to Bergevin & after thinking it over during a weekend the one for one trade was struck.
Then came the shock…. and me shaking. Processing.
Last year a growing swell of fans and writers filled my timeline in the summer months suggesting the Preds trade Shea. I was one of a vocal few who said, “No. You won’t get enough value.” I still felt he was the Preds best player. Plus, there was maybe 5 players in the NHL I would feel happy with in return for a Weber trade.
This past season went along and it became clear to me that Roman Josi had passed Shea for best player on the team. They have very different styles, but Josi was more effective in his role. I finally saw some slowing in Webs skating, some poor first passes, and how he usually defaulted to letting Roman carry the puck up ice.
I still didn’t feel as strongly as so many others, but I could see the decline beginning. That contract loomed in my mind. 10 more years…. I was settled in my mind that Weber had 2-3 great years left and then the chips would fall where they would.
The trade is announced, I get over the shock, and then I begin to really think. I mentioned there was perhaps 5 players I would be happy with trading Weber for. Good news is P.K. Subban was in that group of 5.
You may not know this about me but the Montreal Canadiens are my girlfriend team. It’s the one I really follow out East. I love the history, tradition, and just importance of the CH to the NHL. So I’ve known about Subban for awhile. That said, these last few days have been all about digging in to find out more. Here are some takeaways from my research. Admittedly if you follow me on Twitter (@brandon_felder) you may have read some of this.
We are about to embark on an altogether different journey. Weber and Subban are polar opposites in so many ways, yet both key D-men in the NHL. Where Weber is stoic, Subban is flashy. You rarely get a quote from Shea. There’s always something for P.K. to say after a game. Weber has the bomb shot that can’t be topped. Subban has a slapper that tops 100 mph, but I think he is more selective in its use. Weber defers to Josi to carry the puck. Subban can skate like the wind, wants to carry the puck and set up the big pass.
This all comes down to systems. Peter Laviolette wants the team to have pace, possession, & follow the process. The Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien is an old school kind of guy. Goals come from the crease and dirty areas. You have to get 3 goals to win a game. You stand up the opposition at the blue line.
What we have here is two teams swapping All-Star defenseman to better fit their Head Coaches system. Many have said Montreal severely lost this trade. I believe that’s an exaggeration. In the short-term, I feel the teams come out even. 5 years from now…. Yeah. Poile wins there. The Canadiens management and coaching will LOVE Weber. He is consistent, conservative, & what they have wanted from a #1 D. The trouble here is the fans of Montreal are not on board with what their organization is doing. Weber will face more scrutiny and questions from the fans and media alike than ever before. I worry that could affect his performance but I’m sure he will get through it after a month or so.
Subban is being fully embraced by most Nashville fans before he even laces up his gold-laced skates for the first time. The excitement level to see Subban and Josi man the point on the PP is bubbling over. The Marketing Department at 501 Broadway is likely dreaming up creative campaigns to feature the camera-loving P.K. as you read this.
Here are some snap shots of things I’ve found out about Subban:
He rises to the big moments. Playoff performances that Habs fans will never forget. 38 points in 55 playoff games. Rivalries that he helped fuel with his excellent play in those games. Boston fans are thrilled to see him go. They may not realize that Weber has 4g, 6a in just 12 games vs the Bruins.
He plays with passion. He can’t help but be excited to score a goal and more often than not his actions afterwards show it. He just loves the game and having fun while playing it. He’s the kind of player you pay to see. He brings fans into the building and then out of their seats.
He torments the Minnesota Wild. He has 5g and 6a in just 7 games vs MIN. That could be fun to keep track of. He also has only 3 teams he has not scored a goal against: Anaheim, Arizona, and San Jose. I’d bet he gets 2 of those knocked off this year.
He IS coach-able. I’ve seen where some felt this past season the reason Subban had lower points totals was his desire to do what Therrien has been coaching toward for years. There are clips on the 24CH documentary where he willingly took constructive criticism mid-game. There has been a switch in his game where he doesn’t drop as low into the offensive zone as he used to. Everything is circles and above now. The around the world goal vs Minnesota was from 2011. A look at his 6 goals from last year and they all came from the point and top of faceoff circles (or center ice vs CBJ… Poor Korpisalo). I can’t wait till he gets to go back to freewheeling and dealing under Lavy and Phil Housley. That’s an element I’ve seen no one mention. Subban will be coached one on one by the Hall of Famer Housley. I’m cautious to say this but there is a real possibility of challenging for the Norris next year if things go well.
This has been a long column, but it’s been such a momentous week for the Preds. This ushers in a new chapter for the franchise. There will be a new Captain. A new spotlight put on Nashville. Who knows, maybe NBCSN will give the Preds 3 games this year… This is going to be a team to watch and David Poile is making sure Laviolette has the pieces to make the next step in the process… Western Conference Final.
So farewell Beast. I truly wish you all the best. Hope you prove this trade to be more even than some have thought.
As for Subbanator… See you soon our new friend. We just can’t wait. Let’s go!
Feel free to visit my Twitter feed for some links to other articles and YouTube videos about Subban. It’s going to be a long wait till the season stars back up, but it will be so worth it PredNeck Nation!
Take care,

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