Shea Weber, a rugged defenseman with the Kelowna Rockets, is widely regarded as one of the best prospects in the entire Canadian Hockey League. He was a second round selection of the Nashville Predators in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Weber plays a very physical game and is very hard to beat along the boards, as he is so strong physically and on his skates. He has a hard shot from the point and seems to play even better when it is crunch time.
Weber has had an amazing run over the last 12 months. He won a Memorial Cup with the Rockets in 2004 when they hosted the event. He made Team Canada for the 2004-05 World Junior tournament and was a key defenseman on the team that dominated the tournament and took home a gold medal. He then returned to the WHL and helped the Rockets to a 104-point season and they allowed the second least goals in the league. Weber then was named the playoff MVP as the Rockets took the WHL championship, beating out the Brandon Wheat Kings in the finals.
The defending champion Rockets entered the 2005 Memorial Cup with very little fanfare as most of the media attention was on the host London Knights and on the Rimouski Oceanic and Sidney Crosby. The Rockets lost a heartbreaker to the Ottawa 67s 3-2 in double overtime, in a game that they thoroughly outplayed the 67s and threw 64 shots at goalie Danny Battochio but could only beat him twice.
Hockey’s Future caught up with Weber the next day after a practice.
HF: How do you guys recover from that tough loss last night, especially after outplaying a team that much?
SW: Yeah, it is just one of those things, it has happened to us before, but we just have to rebound and turn the page and look at tonight. London is a good team so we have to focus on them.
HF: I guess that is the nice thing about the schedule — you are right back on the ice instead of sitting around for two days thinking about what could have been?
SW: Yeah, one of the biggest things is to get right back to it, the first couple of shifts will get your mind off it and you don’t have to sit back and dwell on what happened the night before.
HF: With 14 guys back from last year’s championship team, you have a lot of experience and that has to be helpful in a short tournament like this.
SW: Yeah definitely, we have to draw from that experience, we’ve been in this situation before, especially this year, so it’s just one of those situations that we will have to push through.
HF: Can you tell me a bit about the injury that you suffered in the first round and how are you feeling now?
SW: Good, I’m doing really good now and I’m showing no effects to my knee. It was one of those things, I got hit against the boards in Vancouver and kind of jammed my knee and was out for awhile.
HF: Can you tell me a bit about your World Junior experience?
SW: Yes it was more than I expected. It was definitely by far the highlight of the year so far and it was just such an exciting time to meet all those new guys and to get a chance to play with elite caliber players like that.
HF: What has your feedback been from Nashville at the rookie camps that you attended?
SW: It’s been pretty good, I’ve gotten a chance to talk to them a couple of times during the regular season as well. They seem to be pretty happy with things so far. It is just a process that you have to keep getting better and working hard.
HF: Now are you a country music fan?
SW: (laughs) I definitely don’t mind it. I don’t like many kinds of music, but it will be all right.
HF: What do you have to work on the summer the most to get ready for pro hockey next year?
SW: Getting a lot stronger, I want to be bigger and stronger and work on the little aspects of my game, on every aspect, not only defensively but offensively as well. I just want to make sure that I’m doing all the little things to get ready.
HF: What sort of training program do you go through in the summer? Do you work out on your own or do you skate with some other guys?
SW: Last summer I spent it in Kelowna and worked out with some pro guys coming back from the AHL and a couple from the NHL. So working out with them, and Nashville sends a program so I do most of the things out of that book.
HF: Tell me a bit about preparing for London and Rimouski. When you have to face Corey Perry and Crosby, you have faced a lot of good offensive players, but these are the two best in the CHL and you will be up against them head to head.
SW: You have to try to prepare for them like you would for anyone else. Those are two excellent players, I don’t think that there are any special things that you can do because they are going to play their game no matter what, and they are going to be tough to play against it. So you just have to be ready to play your game and that you are tough to play against as well.
HF: Since you played with them at the World Juniors, does that give you a bit of insight on knowing some of their tendencies?
SW: A little bit, you get to know what they do, but you don’t get in the situation of playing against them too often. So it might help a little bit, but not too much.
HF: Tell me a bit about your NHL draft experience and how you slid to the second round to Nashville, did that surprise you?
SW: I was surprised to even go in the second round; I thought that I was going to go later than that. I didn’t know what to expect, it was a just wait and see kind of thing, I was just sitting there for awhile and when I heard my name I was surprised because I thought it was going to be a longer wait than that.
HF: In the WHL draft you weren’t even drafted. How did so many teams go wrong with you?
SW: I don’t know, I played in a small town, maybe I didn’t have enough exposure. Definitely the next couple of years after that were crucial for my improvement and getting better. I was a small kid in my draft year, or about average size, I was 5’9, it was just one of those things that I guess they were looking for a little more size to play in the Western Hockey League.
HF: What NHL defensemen do you like to model your style toward?
SW: I like Jason Smith or Robyn Regehr, solid defensemen all around.
Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.