After 33-year-old Shea Weber underwent knee surgery this off-season, the Montreal Canadiens announced an expected return date of mid-December and even that seemed optimistic. Yet, Weber practiced with the team for the first time this week and now a mid-December return looks very realistic if not excessive. TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports that Weber is considered to be “two weeks ahead” of schedule and could possibly make his season debut by the end of November or first week of December.
Weber is entering his third season with the Canadiens since coming over from the Nashville Predators in the blockbuster trade that sent P.K. Subban packing. Weber’s first season in Montreal was a huge success; the six-time All-Star registered 42 points and a +20 rating in 78 games. Last season was quite different, as the torn meniscus in his right knee limited Weber to just 26 games.
When Weber returns to the ice, it will likely be more than eleven months since his last game action. The Athletic’s Arpon Basu asks the fair question of whether or not the Canadiens should expect Weber to be the same player when he returns. Perhaps the even better questions should be just how much Montreal should ask of Weber once he is deemed healthy. Normally, a player of Weber’s age and experience is often expected to jump right back in to his regular role. However, Weber still has eight years left remaining on his contract and the Habs need to consider his long-term health just as much as his immediate impact. Allowing the veteran to ease back into his role gives the team the best chance to once again enjoy his Norris-caliber play, even if it is not this season. Montreal is certainly excited to have Weber back, but considering how well the team has played early on this year, they can afford to give their captain all the time he needs to get back to full strength.