Expectations for the 2010-2011 Nashville Predators hockey team continues to rise everyday. Yesterday, the team announced that the Alternate captains for the upcoming season would be Steve Sullivan and Ryan Suter. The announcement could hardly be thought of as a surprise. The Alternate captains rotated last year among a select few players, including Sullivan, Weber and Suter. Many fans believed Suter could easily have been given the captaincy, had Shea Weber not been on the team. One of the reasons expectations for this year are so high is because of the team’s leadership being firmly placed in the hands of the 25 year old British Columbia native. When Weber was named captain July 8th, no one was surprised, no one except maybe Weber himself.
While fans had expected the move, Weber said he was a little surprised, adding “obviously, I’ve played for some great captains here. It’s a huge honor to be a part of this organization in that way. I’ve been here since I was drafted so it’s a special feeling. Hopefully it’s going to be a great year.”
Like Nashville fans, Weber’s teammates have also publicly stated that they like the choice. The night of the Skate of the Union, when Weber was introduced as captain, Steve Sullivan wrote on his twitter account a congratulatory remark, adding the C was very well deserved. More recently, The Tennessean reported that the players looked up to and respected Weber, applauding the decision to make him captain. Martin Erat was noted as saying that he was a great person on and off the ice and a leader in the dressing room. Always modest, Weber joked that maybe his teammates were just being nice stating that “I’m not sure [what they see]. They must see something but I’m definitely not going to change the way I do things. I’m not a rah-rah kind of guy. I like to lead by example, but if something needs to be said I’ll say it.”
Coach Barry Trotz couldn’t agree more. “I don’t think Shea has to say a whole lot” Trotz said, adding, “His actions speak volumes… My advice to Shea is don’t change. Just be yourself and you know he’s an easy guy to follow.”
Weber is a restricted free agent at the end of the upcoming season. Naming Weber the captain is a sure sign that the Predators organization wants Weber to stick around for a long long time. Though talks for a contract extension between the two sides have not begun, the feeling is mutual. “I love it here. Whenever it happens, I’m sure it will happen,” Weber said. General Manager David Poile had previously stated that once the players return in the fall, he would have face-to-face discussions about the extension with the captain. Predators fans want Weber locked up long term and are hoping the organization is willing to pay the price required to keep Weber in a Predators uniform for the rest of his career.
Training camp continues Sunday at Centennial Complex with a third of the team having a practice in the morning between 9:45 -11:45 a.m. A scrimmage between the other two thirds of those hopeful of making Nashville’s squad will take place between 12:00-1:30 p.m. Weber will be taking part in the morning practice and won’t scrimmage until Monday.