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Captain Shea Weber is affectionately called “Dad” by his young teammates in the Canadiens’ locker room.
With the NHL season on hold and probably over because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Weber has had a lot of time to be a stay-at-home dad to his three young children while helping out his wife.
“I got three kids so, needless to say, I’ve been pretty busy,” Weber said Monday afternoon during an NHL video conference call with the Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov, the Buffalo Sabres’ Jack Eichel and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman. “A little bit of schoolwork and then, obviously, trying to keep them from killing each other throughout the day. I plan activities and whatnot. So definitely busy in a different way.
“Only one of them is actually in school,” Weber added about his young kids. “So it’s more just activities.”
The Canadiens played their last game on March 10, when they lost 4-2 to the Nashville Predators at the Bell Centre. Two days later, the Canadiens arrived at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard for a morning skate before a scheduled game that night against the Sabres.
“We had just gotten to the rink and we got called into a team meeting,” Weber recalled during the video conference call from his home on Montreal’s South Shore. “They just said they couldn’t really say much more than we can’t have a team meeting and everyone’s just got to go home until further notice. Just got dressed, went home and then, obviously, all this kind of snowballed.”
Later that day, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league would “pause” the season, starting with games that night. The NHL has made it clear it still wants to have some kind of a playoff and present the Stanley Cup this year, but that’s looking less likely with each passing week. The Canadiens had 11 games left to play when the season was paused and weren’t going to make the playoffs.
“I think anyone that’s going to be involved in the playoffs needs some sort of a buildup or some sort of training camp or something to get them ready because this is going to be quite an extended period of time off,” Weber said.
“This is so much bigger than hockey right now,” he added. “The main priority is just making sure everyone is safe and getting healthy. And when we do get back, then everyone will be excited to get back out there in front of our fans and whatever the circumstances or the situation is, I think everyone’s going to be excited to get going.”
The Quebec government recruited Weber and CTV News Montreal anchor Mutsumi Takahashi to record public-health advisories about the COVID-19 pandemic that have been sent out via robocalls encouraging people to stay home, wash their hands often and cough into their elbow, among other things.
“We just have to all understand that we’re in this together and the only way you can do it is together,” Weber said. “As soon as someone’s kind of messing around or not taking it seriously, that’s when things can turn bad for everyone. The team reached out to me that the government wanted me to do something and I was willing to help out, for sure. Hopefully it can influence or help some of those people that maybe wanted to go out or do something that they shouldn’t. It’s tough times, but we’ve just got to stick together and come through this together.”
Weber was asked if he could choose only one music album to listen to during the pandemic what it would be.
“For me, probably something country,” he said. “I’m not huge into names of albums and stuff, but maybe Luke Combs at this point is what I listen to the most.”
Asked what TV shows he has been binge-watching during this time, Weber said: “I’m big into the Vikings . I just finished off the current season of Vikings, so I’m up to date on that. Obviously, I think a lot of people have seen Tiger King , so I’m working my way through that. Five episodes through that, so that’s what I’m watching.”
Weber also had a message for Canadiens fans and fans of the Nashville Predators, his old team.
“I just want to say merci and thank you guys for all your support and sticking with us through these tough times,” he said. “It’s not easy for anyone. It’s not easy for us, yourselves. Obviously, the people in Nashville, tough times for you. Not only the tornadoes that were right before this. Hopefully you guys stay strong now coming through this virus coming next and I know you guys will. It’s a good city and you guys are strong together.
“Obviously, the people here in Montreal, we’re looking forward to getting back in front of you guys at the Bell Centre whenever that time is. Merci beaucoup and stay prudent.”
Note to readers: We know the speed and volume of coronavirus-related news is overwhelming and a little frightening. To help with that, we will dedicate a Montreal Gazette reporter each day to devote their time to synthesizing the most important coronavirus-related news, especially as it relates to life in Montreal and Quebec. Follow their live updates from March 30 here. All our coronavirus-related news can always be found here: montrealgazette.com/tag/coronavirus .
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