In his previous stint with the Nashville Predators, Chris Mason was Shea Weber’s roommate – so to see Weber go through the offer sheet process late last month provided some tense moments for Mason.
“The Weber thing, that was a little surprising. He’s my boy,” said Mason, who signed back with the Predators on July 1st for third stint with the team. “I was sitting and watching how that developed every day after that offer and how everything went down. I was pretty excited that we signed Shea.”
Those same thoughts were echoed by some of Mason’s new teammates.
“We had lost [Ryan] Suter already; if we had lost Weber it would have been another big blow to the franchise,” said Kevin Klein. “I think they (ownership) did a great job stepping up. We love to see that as players and I’m sure the fans were loving that, too.”
Said Colin Wilson, “I just remember waking up one morning and looking at NHL.com and Webs is up there with a Flyers [logo] and I was just like ‘Whoa, that is weird.’ … I was certainly watching closely. It was kind of fun to watch. I had a pretty good feeling that our ownership group was going to step up and [match the offer]. The way the owners have been talking, the way the ownership talks to the players is that they want to establish themselves as a top organization in the league … I was anticipating it.”
Nashville matching the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet thrown Weber’s way from Philadelphia wasn’t the only thing that went on this summer. It was a pretty busy off-season for David Poile and the franchise.
As Klein mentioned, the Predators lost Suter in free agency to Minnesota. Before that, the team distanced themselves from fellow free agents Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn, who were the center of controversy during the playoffs. Not to mention, fan favorite Jordin Tootoo left for rival Detroit, backup goalie Anders Lindback was dealt to Tampa Bay and Francis Bouillon returned to Montreal.
“It’s been an interesting [summer], for sure. There’s been a lot going on,” said Mike Fisher, whose two-year extension was officially announced Monday.
Poile also re-signed veterans Paul Gaustad and Hal Gill, and gave Wilson, Sergei Kostitsyn and Brian McGrattan new contracts as well. Mason and defenseman Scott Hannan were signed in free agency.
But the headliner obviously was the re-signing of Weber.
“I’m glad we have Webs for – I can’t even count that high,” said Klein, referring to the 14-year deal. “I talk to Webs all the time and he figured that the team would match it, which is awesome. He’s happy about being here and he loves it here. He’ll be our captain for a long time.”
Pundits outside of Music City were surprised to see the Predators’ ownership step up. Gaustad wasn’t surprised.
“When I re-signed they wanted to be a winning team, win a Stanley Cup. To me, it’s an action that proves that,” he said.
In Buffalo, Gaustad was a part of some good teams that lost star players to free agency. Time and time again, the Sabres bounced back and stayed in the playoff hunt. He expects to see the same thing this season with the Predators.
“Guys that play together and play hard can beat individual skill,” said Gaustad, who signed on for four years. “It’s all about guys stepping up and taking on more responsibility and moving on as a team. Every team is going to be different every year.”