Shea Weber made a very smart business decision. It wasn’t about playing in Philadelphia. It wasn’t even about playing in Nashville. It was about correctly reading the market, and that’s what he and his representatives did.
One year ago today, the Nashville Predators made the decision to match the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet between Weber and the Philadelphia Flyers. It was without question the biggest decision in franchise history, and it solidified that Nashville would have their captain and arguably the best defenseman in the NHL for the next 14 years.
A lot has been made of Weber’s decision to sign the offer sheet. It’s been said that it means he must have really wanted to play in Philadelphia. It’s been said that it means he must have really wanted to play in Nashville because he knew they’d sign the offer sheet. However, neither one of those reasons are entirely accurate.
Weber had no interest in going through another arbitration process like he did the previous summer in 2011. He also didn’t want to wait another year to become an unrestricted free agent because he knew that the new collective bargaining agreement probably wouldn’t allow him to maximize the term and dollar amount that it would if he just signed the offer sheet in the summer of 2012 before the CBA expired.
So what was the absolute best business move for Weber? Signing that offer sheet with Philadelphia. He got the stability of a 14-year contract, and he got a whole heck of a lot of money.
Do I believe that Weber really thought the Predators would match the offer sheet? Yes. Do I believe he would’ve also been perfectly happy going to play in Philadelphia? Yes. Because it was a business decision. Those type of contracts only come around one time in a player’s career. In Weber’s case, this type of contract had never come around for any defenseman in the history of the game. It was a no-brainer for him to sign.
Sure, Weber would have gotten a lot of money if he simply decided to sign with the Predators without signing an offer sheet from the Flyers. He just probably wouldn’t have gotten as much money for as many years.
One year later, Weber has gone about his business in the same way he always did. He was the leading scorer for the Predators last season with 28 points and displayed great leadership on a team that was not very good. Weber could have easily packed it in when the Predators were eliminated from postseason contention, but he didn’t. He was a good example for the multitude of young players that came up from Milwaukee to follow.
After being nominated for the Norris Trophy two seasons in a row, Weber was not last year despite having another solid season. That’s to be expected when the team finishes in 14th place in the Western Conference. His level of play hasn’t dropped off since signing the big contract. He was instrumental in the rapid maturation of Roman Josi and is heading into the 2013-14 season as the leader of what could potentially be one of the best defensive units in the NHL.
The Predators will travel to Philadelphia on Jan. 16, 2014 to take on the Flyers in the City of Brotherly Love for the first time in Philadelphia since Weber signed the offer sheet. While Weber is normally very respectful and patient with the media, that day in Philadelphia is going to be pretty unique. He’s going to get a lot of questions, fair or unfair, about signing the offer sheet with the Flyers and whether or not he truly does want to be playing in Philadelphia. He’ll handle it like he’s handled pretty much everything over the last year–like a pro.
One year after the Predators decided to match the offer sheet, the questions about his future in Nashville still pop up all the time. His name comes up on unfounded Twitter trade rumors almost every day, and he was even asked after last season if he is committed to staying in Music City.
It seems to be a question that’s not going to go away anytime soon for Nashville’s captain. It’s not even necessarily an unfair question to ask. However, it was never about Philadelphia or Nashville. It was about correctly reading the market.
If it was up to Weber, the whole situation would be over with and nobody would ever speak of it again. However, that’s not the type of world we live in. Every athlete’s decisions are analyzed, motives are questioned and there always seems to be competing angles to every story. But Weber is only focused on one thing now that his contract has been signed, and that’s winning. And it’s winning in Nashville.
Shea Weber made a very smart business decision. And so did the Predators for making the commitment to their captain.