If you can believe it, it’s been exactly one month since the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens shocked the hockey universe as P.K. Subban became a Predator and Shea Weber became a Canadien.
The dust has settled just a bit since the blockbuster so we thought it would be fun to gain a little bit of perspective about the trade from the fine folks at Habs Eyes On The Prize.
Special thanks to Andrew Zadarnowski for taking some time to talk with us.
First off, how did you initially hear the news about the Subban - Weber deal? Where were you/what were you doing when you first heard about the blockbuster?
It will be a moment I will never forget, forever etched in my memory. I was seated at my desk at work, within the comforting confines of three 6' cubicle walls, in the midst of a heated conference call with several internal stakeholders on a eight-figure project that I was managing. When my turn to speak passed, I gave the floor to the other parties to speak, and simply moderated the conversation to ensure that we stayed on track. One screen had a WebEx screen share with some technical drawings, the other my Twitter feed which I was monitoring quite closely due to very active hockey.
As if by divine challenge my turn to speak again happened just as a Tweet emerged from, I believe, Bob McKenzie with the shocking news "Subban traded". My jaw just dropped and in a flash I lost all ability to confidently herd a gaggle of sales reps, group managers, and other people on the call.
The news got quickly more unbelievable "Subban to Nashville", "Subban traded for Weber", "no other players involved". These items came firing out at rapid succession, and the flurry completely levelled me. The call fell apart as I started babbling about something tangentially related to what was being discussed, my focus being destroyed. The call last for another 30 minutes and I was trapped in a sort of productivity purgatory, unable to start panic writing for EOTP nor able to recapture focus on the task at hand.
How long did it actually take to sink in? It honestly didn't hit me until I saw Subban throw on a Preds' sweater if I am being honest.
I refused to believe it at first. I think I managed to fly through four of the five phases of grief in accelerated succession. At first it was denial. I kept going back to that McKenzie profile, hoping it was an elaborate prank played by a cruel impersonator.
P.K. Subban throws on his #Preds sweater: pic.twitter.com/7ak4ARs1AM— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) July 18, 2016
Then when multiple outlets began to report the same thing I started getting angry. A mere two days after confidently proclaiming that Subban wasn't on the market and that he was going to be a Canadien for a long time, General Manager Marc Bergevin traded a player who seemed to never have been fully accepted by the organization. It seemed petty and it seemed like a brutally one-sided trade, it seemed awful awful awful.
Then I began to bargain, wondering who else they may have gotten in the trade. Perhaps trading a player of Subban's stature would yield a tremendous return? But that was not to be as Weber was the only player coming back in return. Depression quickly set in soon after. Weber was older, had a longer deal, which I had openly mocked back in the day. The Habs had just traded their rejuvenated spirit for an aging Team Canada standard with a Gomez-like albatross contract.
What were your thoughts about Shea Weber before he became a Canadien in terms of his level of play? Have they changed at all now that he will be wearing red, white and blue?
I knew that Weber was a tough defender to play against; large and physically imposing. He was a favourite for Team Canada for that very reason, and that's where I had seen him mostly. Besides that I didn't really know that much since I rarely got to watch the Predators play.
As part of the Canadiens I hope he brings that bone-crunching style with him, and helps to fix a pathetic power play, which faltered badly the last few seasons despite counting on Subban.
With the additional arrival of Kirk Muller, the Habs should be in a better position to correct the man advantage, but given the overall talent levels on the team, it wasn't Subban who was bringing the team down, but rather coaching which was unable to unlock the talent of many of these players, and in fact, at least in Subban's case, actively tried to harness and constrain him.
There has been plenty of talk about Weber not being a 'great defenseman' and that he relies on his partner far too much. What are your thoughts there?
Nobody can defend on their own, so it will be interesting to see who Weber will be paired up with on the Canadiens. We can quickly assume that the team views Weber as their #1 defenceman, but who will he best paired with?
I can't see it being aging veteran Andrei Markov who really needs to stop playing over 20 minutes per game. Pairing him with Alexei Emelin would be physically dominant pairing, however the risk of mistakes is just too great as both players require someone to watch their back due to slow foot speed, so I can't see risk-averse Michel Therrien choosing that.
The options come down to Nathan Beaulieu who doesn't seem to have any of his coach's trust, so first pairing is unlikely, and Jeff Petry would would need to switch sides to play with Weber. All that to say, yes, I think Weber will need to be paired with the correct defender to be successful, and that I have no idea who that player is.
It's been a month since the trade happened and the dust has settled ever so slightly. How do you look at this trade now and what positives have you come up with or have seen from others about Weber manning the blue line in Montreal?
Not too many positives at this point unfortunately. I still feel the Canadiens got absolutely fleeced on this self-inflicted deal, a view that certainly is not an isolated impression in the least. Some francophone media were quick to bury Subban, and I'm sure they have their reasons, however everyone else within Montreal and outside corroborate my view that Montreal came out a big loser in this trade.
That being said, I now need to see Weber for myself as part of the Canadiens. Perhaps these fears will be immediately alleviated at that point, and that really is the absolute best case scenario.
What are you looking forward to the most this season from Shea Weber?
Contributing towards winning the Stanley Cup. Nothing less.
After the heartbreaking and perplexing season the Canadiens just had, this was the final heartbreaker that definitely put an end to any benefit of the doubt that Marc Bergevin held with the fanbase. There is zero room for mistakes for him right now as his legacy is massively tarnished, and risks his management career on this move panning out for the Canadiens.
Should the Canadiens falter or Weber does not play up to his career best, then heads need to roll.
Are the Preds now higher up on your favorite teams list or did they drop in your rankings thanks to the deal?
I think that the Predators will be higher on everyone's list now, given the marketing machine they just acquired in Subban. I just hope that the Predators don't make the same mistake as the Canadiens in trying to contain Subban and reign in his self-aggrandization. He may have a personality the size of a small planet, but it is in true honesty a well-meaning person behind it that honestly wants to help others by using his name brand power.
So far it appears as though Nashville is embracing Subban. He will do more for your city than Weber ever did. The NHL should also loosen their reigns on using Subban as a prime marketing figure. The Predators are about to get a lot more exposure.
What do Preds' fans maybe not know about what exactly they will be getting in Subban? Any tidbits or small things he does that fans that haven't watched him closely stand out to you during his time in Montreal?
In an endless sea of mundane and monotone player interviews, Subban is a breathe of fresh air. He is a very smart and well-spoken individual who will give fantastic interviews that draw you in. He is exciting to watch on the ice, and interesting to watch off of it. You should consider yourselves lucky Nashville! I hate you all!