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Does the Predators’ Shea Weber deserve the Norris Trophy?

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Shea Weber could retire tomorrow and have a pretty nice career to reflect on. Two Olympic gold medals. A two-time NHL First Team All Star. A number that’ll be retired one day in Nashville. A pretty good shot at the Hall of Fame, too.

But one thing that’s missing from his resume is a Norris Trophy. Weber’s been recognized as one of the best defensemen in the game for several years now and twice he’s finished as the first runner-up for the award, but the hardware has eluded him.

That’s something the Predators would like to change. They’ve been pushing the narrative of this being Weber’s best season ever for a week or so now, with coach Barry Trotz leading the charge. “He’s not getting the accolades across the league that he would if we were a little higher in the standings, but it’s by far his best season in terms of production,” Trotz said. “And we’re basically breaking in five defensemen, maybe four … and he’s having a terrific season.”

Now the team is taking the offensive one step further by sending out this promotional video extolling his virtues. Smart move? You bet. Despite universal recognition of his greatness, he’s sort of a back-of-mind candidate. Even with his big numbers, his profile suffers from playing for a small-market team that’s been circling the playoff drain for a couple months already.

Will this will help end his Norris drought? We’ll find out in June.


  • Published On Apr 03, 2014
  • My favorite hockey stories of 2012

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    Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

    One year after a tragic plane crash decimated the KHL team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl returned to the ice. Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov (left, greeting former Capitals teammate Alex Ovechkin after a game) has been tending goal. (Photo by Yury Kuzmin/KHL Photo Agency via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    A big dark storm cloud lingers over any celebration of hockey in 2012. It’s the NHL lockout and it has been showering grief on the game and its fans for over three months. Now, it also makes my job here a bit easier compared to my colleagues who are covering other sports because so little has happened between June and December that the range of choices for my favorite stories of the year has been sliced dramatically. Still, I’d rather be burdened by having to choose from a full plate.

    That said, here are my 10 highlights. (You can read other SI.com writers’ picks here and view a gallery of the 112 most amazing sports moments of 2012 here.)

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  • Published On Dec 20, 2012
  • How much blame do NHL owners deserve for their economic woes?

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    Until last season’s playoff run, their first berth since 2000, the Panthers were a mediocre to poor club and tough box office sell, factors that have nothing to do with the NHL’s expired CBA. (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    On Monday, we looked at Jimmy Devellano’s strange remarks about NHL players, who he suggested are viewed by ownership as “cattle.” How many owners actually feel that way might be in question, but another of his remarks might be a more accurate representation of this group’s sentiment as the lockout continues. “The owners simply aren’t going to let a union push them around,” Jimmy D. said. “It’s not going to happen.”

    And, apparently, they are going to assert themselves even if it means losing another entire season — or maybe even two, or however long it takes until they can get the players to yield. When former Florida Panthers executive Stu Siegel writes in this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated that he’s “depressed” to see another work stoppage and notes “there’s plenty of blame to go around,” you have to take into consideration that the owners’ intransigence is a big component.

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  • Published On Sep 25, 2012
  • P.K. Subban rumors overblown

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    NHL free agent P.K. Subban of the Canadiens in negotiating a new contract.

    Defenseman P.K. Subban is a desirable restricted free agent, but the Canadiens are not an easy franchise to raid. (Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    Among the most buzz-y stories this week has been the plight of Pernell Karl Subban, the Canadiens’ restricted free agent defenseman who remains unsigned. It’s worth questioning, however, if this story is worth all the buzz, although almost everything involving P.K. grabs the hockey world by the lapels and screams for attention, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

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  • Published On Aug 03, 2012
  • Time will tell on Weber’s deal with Preds

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    Shea Weber

    The Predators opened up the wallet to match Shea Weber’s 14-year, $110 million offer sheet from the Flyers. (US Presswire)

    By Stu Hackel

    If the Predators’ decision to match the Flyers’ $110 million RFA offer sheet to Shea Weber late Tuesday wasn’t quite a declaration of independence for Nashville’s hockey team, it was something close to that. No longer will the Preds be a slave to pro sports’ small market mentality, forced to surrender top-tier and complimentary players when they can no longer afford them.

    That had been the Preds’ way, sadly, for too long. Their difficult financial picture (made even worse at one point when a California con man didn’t have the $23.5 he was investing as an ownership partner) always meant that when important players neared the end of their contracts, they’d end up elsewhere. They were always saying goodbye, it seemed: Kimmo Timonen, Dan Hamhius, Scott Hartnell, Andy Delmore, Cliff Ronning, Vern Fidler, Tom Fitzgerald and probably a few more I can’t recall at the moment. Nashville was a team they loved and they left.

    But no more. It started last fall when the new ownership group, headed by Tom Cigarran, and GM David Poile locked up goalie Pekka Rinne for seven years at $7 million a season. They pledged they would do everything they could to keep their top defensive tandem — Weber and Ryan Suter — together regardless of the cost. They said they’d spend to the cap limit, if they needed, to make the Preds a Cup contender. This was a different message, a brand new tune, coming out of Nashville and the fans loved it.

    They have to love it even more today. These guys were true to their word. They did everything in their power to hold on to Suter, but couldn’t compete with the lure of family, friends and familiar surroundings in Minnesota. For once, it wasn’t about the money.

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  • Published On Jul 25, 2012
  • Weber, Doan reluctantly look elsewhere

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    Shea Weber contract

    The Flyers gave Shea Weber a 14-year offer reportedly worth up to a stunning $110 million. (Matt Kartozian/US Presswire)

    By Stu Hackel

    Time to check in with two NHLers — once considered loyal beyond question to their teams — who may or may not be changing addresses in the near future. We’ll know about Shea Weber, and whether the Predators match the Flyers RFA offer sheet, no later than Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. As for Shane Doan, and whether he decides to forsake the Coyotes and sign elsewhere as a UFA, the timeline is far less certain.

    The latest on Weber, who Philadelphia signed to a stupendous offer last week, is a report that the Flyers and Predators are working on some sort of trade that would end up with Weber moving to Philly but the Predators getting players instead of the four first-round draft choices in return.

    Weber leaving Nashville is still a dizzying situation to contemplate and something he might not have considered had Ryan Suter not signed with Minnesota, although relations between Weber and the team could have been strained last year when they went through arbitration. Now, the Predators’ loyalty will be tested: If the Preds decide to remain true to their pledge not to lose top players to another team for financial reasons, then you can forget all this trade talk.

    If, on the other hand, Nashville believes matching the offer sheet would cripple their franchise going forward, Predators GM David Poile would probably prefer to acquire NHL-ready talent now rather than draft picks later (as much as four years later) who may never pan out and certainly not for years down the road.

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  • Published On Jul 23, 2012
  • Weber offer exposes owner vs. owner side of CBA talks

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    Shea Weber of the Predators in action against the Flyers

    The current NHL is really just a rough battle between “haves” like the Flyers and “have-not” teams like the Predators. (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Much of the discussion surrounding the Flyers’ offer sheet to Predators RFA Shea Weber centers on whether Nashville will match it — and many believe they must and will — but Philadelphia’s stab at snaring the All-Star defenseman also tells us a great deal about the negotiations between the NHL’s owners and players for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

    Yes, the talks are between labor and management, but the Weber situation reveals that the basic issue confronting the two sides is actually the owners vs. themselves. It’s their collective inability to figure out how to solve their business problems that have been created by their own record revenues. The solution in their opening proposal seeks to shift the burden of fixing them onto the players. and as long as this remains their course, the problems of inequity among the 30 franchises probably can’t be solved.

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  • Published On Jul 20, 2012
  • Shea Weber’s offer sheet puts Predators at the crossroads

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    It’s been a cruel summer in Nashville, where captain Shea Weber (left) may soon follow his former All-Star defense partner Ryan Suter out of town and leave the once-promising Predators in a shambles. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    There have been a few huge bombshells dropped during this offseason and two of the biggest have fallen on Nashville. The Flyers signing restricted free agent defenseman Shea Weber late Wednesday to a mammoth 14-year offer sheet worth a reported $110 million comes two weeks after Ryan Suter, Weber’s partner in the NHL’s best defensive tandem, signed a 13-year, $98 million deal with Minnesota as an unrestricted free agent. Thanks to the Flyers’ offer sheet, a Predators team aiming to join the ranks of the NHL’s best is now at a crossroads.

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  • Published On Jul 19, 2012
  • Suter, Parise signings will echo

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    It’s ironic that the Predators lost Ryan Suter and may be unable to keep his star defense partner Shea Weber (right) at a time when tight finances are no longer a big issue for the franchise. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The earth didn’t exactly shake and the sun didn’t rise in the West, but something pretty unusual has transpired since the opening of free agency on July 1. None of the NHL’s high profile, high revenue clubs made off with the best players available.

    We’d all become conditioned to the big clubs getting the big names. The list always begins with hockey’s premier franchises — the Original Six, plus the Penguins, Flyers, Canucks, Sharks, Stars and maybe one or two others. As Billie Holiday wrote and sang long ago, “Them that’s got shall get, Them that’s not shall lose,” a colloquial way of saying the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It’s pretty much true in life and that’s how we expect it to go down in the NHL, too.

    But here are Zach Parise and Ryan Suter dressed not in the sweaters of the Penguins or Red Wings or Blackhawks, but the Minnesota Wild! Add the Oilers’ signing of college defenseman Justin Schultz, a Western Canadian product hotly pursued by numerous NHL clubs once his draft rights with Anaheim expired. And, on Wednesday night, the Lightning joined the party by inking former Flyer Matt Carle who, right after Suter, was in the next tier of ardently sought d-men with Schultz and Jason Garrison.

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  • Published On Jul 05, 2012
  • Awards races tight as season, playoffs

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    Few people get fired up about the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play and sportsmanship, however Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell will be a rare bird if he wins it. (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL hands out its annual individual player awards tonight in Las Vegas during a glitzy, star-spangled gala that’s a far cry from the afternoon luncheons in Montreal that were hosted by Clarence Campbell.

    Just as the regular season and playoffs were hard to predict as a result of the league’s parity, it’s difficult to try determining who the voters selected for some of the hardware, and there may be some controversial choices among fans who will believe that the wrong guy won. You have to keep in mind that the voting was done at the conclusion of the regular season and the award recognizes only that aspect of the players’ performances. The playoffs are not a factor.

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  • Published On Jun 20, 2012


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