Injury didn't dim Weber’s Olympic dream

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:32 PM ET

NASHVILLE — The TV crews camped out at his parents’ home the morning of the Team Canada Olympic roster announcement apparently didn’t spoil the surprise for Shea Weber.

But his parents must have had a clue.

“It sounded like they did. They didn’t tell me the night before. Maybe they knew,” Weber said Tuesday of the call from Doug Armstrong that came through the morning of Dec. 30 to let the Nashville Predators defenceman know he was going to the Olympics in Vancouver.

“I called them, and there wasn’t too much surprise.”

There shouldn’t be many eyebrows raised over Weber’s inclusion.

Armed with a powerful slapshot, a physical presence, and a defensive awareness, the 24-year-old from Sicamous, B.C., has earned the right to represent his country in his home province in February.

Improved health and the announcement have given him the chance to prove it.

Battling an undisclosed injury, Weber struggled through the late stages of November and much of December.

That just made the pressure of making Team Canada even more of a load for him to deal with.

“It’s definitely in the back of your mind,” Weber said. “You try not to think about it, but it’s huge — everything you see in Canada, it’s Vancouver 2010.

“It’s nice to have it over with.”

Predators head coach Barry Trotz saw an almost immediate improvement from his prize pupil once the announcement was made.

“I know it weighed heavily on Shea’s mind,” Trotz said. “Shea played for about six weeks quite injured — probably shouldn’t have played, but there was no way he was not going to play.

“He didn’t play probably as well as you’re used to seeing him. As the injury kept getting better, he started playing better.

“Once they made that announcement, he has blown through the ceiling in terms of his play.”

Offering a goal, assist and 10 shots (which tied his own franchise record for shots in a single game) in a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks, Weber had the kind of game Team Canada executives expect to see at the Vancouver Games.

“You want to play a skill game, he can do that. If you want to play a real heavy, physical, intimidating game, he can do that,” said Trotz.

“He can also beat you from almost anywhere on the ice with that slapshot.”

Part of a young and talented defence corps in the Music City, Weber won’t be the lone representative going to the Olympics.

His partner Ryan Suter was selected for Team USA, and Alexander Sulzer will represent Germany.

Dan Hamhuis was part of the orientation camp in August, and considered by Team Canada.

“I can say I knew (Suter) was gonna make it, but that’s always a tough one,” Weber said of his blueline partner. “He’s a great player. It’s gonna be fun to see him on the other side.”


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