Q&A with Yannick Weber

By Adam Danter

Weber, drafted in the third round in 2007 by the Canadiens, enjoyed a breakout season with the Kitchener Rangers this year.  The Switzerland native scored 20 goals and 35 helpers in 59 games. A quarterback on the power play, Weber uses his booming shot from the point to set up rebounds.  The 19-year-old blue liner’s skating skills are fantastic and he sees the game well with his excellent vision.

While his defensive zone coverage was a weakness, the 5’11, 194-pounder has worked very hard to improve this part of the game.  The coaching staff has put in extra hours to empower him to bring his defensive style to the level they know he is capable of.  When his defense catches up to his offense, he will be really one to watch.

Kitchener head coach Peter DeBoer has publicly said that Weber is the best defenseman in the OHL.  If his defense keeps improving, there might not be too many arguments from anyone.

HF:  How did you feel that your year went?

YW:  It was really good.  As a team we worked hard together to win the OHL Championship.  Even though we were guaranteed to make the tournament as hosts, we wanted to make the tournament as the OHL champs and that is just what we did.

HF:  What did you learn from this season?

YW:  Last year I wasn’t a top defenseman on the team.  I didn’t play as much as I did this year.  I have been expected to log a lot more ice time and work with the power play unit.  I learned not to put too much pressure on myself, just play my game, stay calm and be smart on the ice.  I think I did a good job of that this year, I was really happy with how it turned out.  I feel so much more confident.

HF:  You played for the Swiss team at the World Junior Hockey Championships.  How was that experience?

YW:  Getting to play against the best players in the world was a real test for me.  I was able to see how I could play among the best and I felt that it went really well.  Our team didn’t fare so well, but we learned a lot.

HF:  How does it feel to be property of the Montreal Canadiens?

YW:  They are a team with a lot of history.  They are a great organization and have treated me well.  I am very happy to be on the team.  I can’t wait to wear the jersey every game.

HF:  How is playing in the Memorial Cup as opposed to the OHL playoffs?

YW:  Even though we are still fighting to win the big trophy you have to do your best to win every night.  Losing your first game already puts you in the hole, and it is tough to fight your way out.  In the playoff format winning four out of seven somewhat allows you some room, but not in this.  It is a killer if you lose and lose early.  You can’t think of the past games whether you win or lose, you just have to focus on the game you are playing.

HF:  Kitchener has finally seen the last of the Belleville Bulls for this season.  How does the team feel now that your extended playoffs against them has finished?

YW:  I am more than happy to not see them anymore.  They gave us such a hard time all year long.  They pushed us as hard as any team possibly could.  Now it just comes down to us and Spokane.

HF:  When you have time to take it easy what do you do?

YW:  Well, my roommate and I will sit around on the couch and watch TV, take it easy and unwind from hockey, take care of your body.  We just try to sit at home and avoid the busy places so that it is more relaxing.

HF:  What plans do you have for the summer?

YW:  I am going home and will plan a little vacation in Europe.  Then once I am done that I will start training and get ready for the upcoming year, get the body into good shape. 

HF:  Who is your favorite hockey player?

YW:  Chris Chelios.  He was the first hockey card that I owned when he played with the Chicago Blackhawks.  He is great, and being that he is over 45 years old and still plays hockey it just shows how good he is.  It is like he still plays like a 25-year-old, and that is why I admire him.

HF:  What is your favorite NHL team?

YW:  It’s the Chicago Blackhawks.  They were the first jersey that I had.  I like the Montreal Canadiens obviously because they drafted me and are a great team, but I have always been a big-time Blackhawks fan.