Named a finalist for the Norris Trophy this week, Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber can now only wait until June 24th to learn his fate.
The 28-year-old has come up empty his two previous times at the NHL awards, much like the franchise for which he’s played his whole career. Now with their 15th season in the books, the Nashville Predators are yet to have a player take home a “performance-based” award from Las Vegas.
A Norris Trophy win for Weber would impact more than just the player himself, but the franchise as a whole.
Parents “ooh” and “ah” over their children as they mature; watching as their little ones crawl, walk and eventually run. Likewise, that’s how it’s been seeing the Predators grow from a teetering expansion franchise to a playoff perennial. The club has matured and developed right before our eyes until one major step remains: placing hardware in the trophy case.
Former Nashville forward Steve Sullivan was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy (perseverance/sportsmanship) in 2009 and Mike Fisher recently was given recognition in 2012 for his charity work, but one of the “classic” NHL awards has still eluded the Predators.
Weber would tell you the one prize he’d like to bring to the Predators–more than any other–would be the Stanley Cup. And that’s great. But the significance of Weber winning the Norris shouldn’t be overlooked.
Weber claiming one of the infamous NHL awards affirms the presence of a superstar in Nashville and that in turn impacts the attractiveness of the franchise to free agents and even a future coach. The Predators will be courting high-profile free agents like current Colorado Avalanche forward Paul Stastny this summer and the opportunity to play with a Norris Trophy winner will certainly be mentioned. The same line of thinking applies when selling the team’s assets to the future bench boss of the Predators.
For those of us so close to the situation–it may be hard to see–but the Predators adding their first major trophy winner this summer would help to alter the viewpoints of national media and even of other clubs’ management. There’s still a feeling that Nashville is the little brother to teams based in more-traditional markets and a Weber win may help to close some of that supposed gap.
So if Weber does indeed win this summer, don’t see the Norris as something meaningless in the grand scheme of things. See it as another step out of infancy and into adulthood for the Predators organization as a whole.