Tuesday night’s contest between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators featured two of the best players in the NHL and two of the most important figures in Canadian hockey over the past four years.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Predators captain Shea Weber were key members of the 2014 Canadian Men’s Olympic hockey team in Sochi that won the gold medal, and they were also roommates during their stay overseas. It was yet another chapter in a friendship between the two that has been developing over the past decade.
“I’ve known him for a while now,” Weber said. “He’s obviously a great guy and somebody that I keep in touch with.”
“We roomed together in Vancouver, too, played World Juniors in 2005, so we know each other pretty well,” Crosby said. “He’s a great guy, great leader and he was a big part of our success over [in Sochi].”
Weber is a guy that brings a great deal of intensity to his game. He plays with some nastiness and some edge to his game on a nightly basis in the NHL. He’s one of those players that seems to be able to flip a switch and turn on his focus. Even when dealing with the media, Weber is all business.
According to Crosby, however, Weber was pretty good in Sochi with being able to separate the focus and intensity that comes with playing in arguably the best hockey tournament in the world from his demeanor off the ice with is teammates and his roommate.
“He kept things pretty light, I think,” Crosby said. “There’s a lot of pressure when you’re playing in the Olympics. As his roommate, when it was time to get ready for a game he was definitely all business, but I think in between he seemed to be pretty loose and pretty laid back. I think that’s pretty important when you are that focused to have some time to relax, and he seemed like he was able to do that pretty easily.”
Crosby is a player that has dealt with the spotlight and attention ever since he was a kid. Everywhere he goes, Crosby has hoards of media and fans following his every move and focusing a huge amount of attention on him. He’s had to deal with being the face of the NHL ever since he was drafted by the Penguins back in 2005. He’s won a Stanley Cup, two Olympic gold medals and has the potential to be one of the greatest players to ever play the game.
Weber is a guy that hasn’t had to, and really hasn’t wanted to, deal with all of the media attention that comes with being a superstar player in the NHL. He doesn’t like talking about his personal accomplishments but is quick to point out the accomplishments of his teammates.
In a smaller market like Nashville, Weber doesn’t get the amount of exposure that he deserves or would get if he were in a bigger market. However, the Olympics gave the entire world a chance to see just how good Weber really is. He was a crucial piece to the puzzle for the Canadians on both sides of the ice.
“Really important,” Crosby said. “You go back to that Latvia game and how big that goal was. He’s so solid back there. His shot is so dangerous, and it always finds a way to get through with how hard it is. I think on both sides of the puck, and in the dressing room with the leadership he showed, he was a big part of our success.”
Everyone knows about Weber’s booming slap shot that he’s able to unleash on a nightly basis. It’s the part of his game that gets the most notoriety, and deservedly so. However, Weber doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves for his defensive game. He’s arguably the best all-around defenseman in the NHL today with the different ways in which he operates. It’s something that Crosby sees firsthand when he’s matched up against Weber.
“He’s a big guy. He’s strong so when you get close to him, physically, he’s tough to play against,” Crosby said. “That being said, he’s pretty good with the puck, so when you don’t put pressure on him, a lot of times he’s able to make good plays. He’s probably successful for a couple of different reasons, but I think his strength and his size 1-on-1 is tough. When he does have the puck, he’s able to make good reads and get himself out of trouble that way, too.”
While they have gone back to their respective NHL teams since winning the gold medal in Sochi, it’s obvious that both Crosby and Weber have a lot of respect for one another. The two roommates have won two Olympic gold medals and a World Junior gold medal together.
Now we’ll just have to wait and see if they’ll be given the chance to win together again in 2018.