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If Shea Weber’s future as a player in the NHL was ever in question, he knew nothing about it.
Weber suffered what the Canadiens first reported to be a “lower-body injury” during a 5-4 shootout win over the Devils in New Jersey on Feb. 4.
Last Wednesday, former Sportsnet hockey analyst Nick Kypreos had Canadiens fans panicking when he tweeted out: “Sources say Shea Weber injury has his season likely over and his future in question. Told injury is related to foot that was surgically repaired in 2018. While waiting for swelling to alleviate and further confirmation, surgery seemed unavoidable going into this week.”
Later that day, the Canadiens reported Weber had suffered a sprained left ankle and would be sidelined four to six weeks. The announcement came after Weber had his ankle examined by orthopedic specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay, Wis. It was Anderson who performed the surgery to repair tendons in Weber’s left foot in March 2018. Weber missed the last 56 games of the 2017-18 season and the first 24 games last season after another surgery to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee.
After the Canadiens announced Weber was expected to be out four to six weeks, Kypreos tweeted: “Hopeful for the Canadiens, Shea fully recovers in 4-6 wks. But I stand by my story that the concern going into this week was tendon related and not optimistic for his return. Long term questions I believe remain.”
On Monday morning, Weber made a surprise appearance on the ice for the Canadiens’ practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, and the captain is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday in Detroit against the Red Wings (7:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). The Canadiens have lost their last four games (0-3-1) and their playoff hopes are on life support with a 27-26-8 record.
Weber said after Monday’s practice that he had skated by himself the previous two days.
He was asked what his reaction was to the original report from Kypreos, who played eight seasons in the NHL and still has many sources around the league after being let go by Sportsnet as part of job cuts last summer.
“My phone blew up with a ton of text messages and I had no idea what anyone was even talking about and then, obviously, I saw the doctor and then kind of found out after I saw the doctor what had happened,” Weber said. “So just kind of weird. All these people were telling me something that I didn’t even know yet. I don’t know … it’s just a weird situation because I didn’t even know anything yet and people were telling me that I was done. So it was kind of a tough situation, but happy to be skating.”
When asked if he was surprised to be able to return to the ice so quickly, Weber said: “I don’t listen … I shouldn’t say I don’t listen to timelines. But my goal is to get back as soon as possible, and when I feel like I can help the team then I’ll come back. At this point I feel good enough to help out and just keep going that way.”
Weber was skating well at Monday’s practice while paired with regular defence partner Ben Chiarot, but he’s still feeling pain in his foot.
“It is what it is,” Weber said. “I’ve played with pain before, I’ll do it again.
“There’s obviously functionality and pain levels and pain tolerance, and right now it’s in a good spot,” he added. “So just taking it day by day.”
Weber has missed 86 games over the last three seasons because of injuries. He suffered a fracture in his left foot during the 2018-19 season opener in Buffalo and played through it for the next 25 games before being shut down for the rest of the season and requiring the surgery to repair tendons in the foot.
When asked if there was any risk of aggravating this latest injury by playing, Weber said: “That’s obviously the biggest thing. You don’t want any long-term things, especially after what happened last time. I think at this point we’re confident that it’s just a listen-to-your-body type of thing, and then hopefully shouldn’t draw on it and make anything worse.”
Weber wouldn’t say if the latest injury is related to the tendons that were repaired in his left foot.
“I’m looking forward to just getting back,” he said. “I don’t want to get into details right now. Figured out what we needed to do and the medical staff, trainers have done a great job the last couple of weeks of helping me get through the majority of this and just keep moving forward.”
In 55 games this season, Weber has 13-21-34 totals and is plus-8 while averaging a team-high 24:18 of ice time. The 34-year-old has six more seasons after this remaining on his 14-year, US$110-million contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $7,857 million.
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