The Sheet: Preds must audition for Weber

Not surprised at all by the $7.5 million arbitration ruling in the Shea Weber case and, if anything, you could argue he could/should command more.

The challenge now for Predators general manager David Poile is getting Weber under a long-term contract and demonstrating that the team can continue on their uptick. Last year, the Predators finally got past the first-round hurdle. This season, there will have to be more improvement.

It’s almost like the team has to audition for Weber since he’s not going to stick around (and Nashville has him for the next two years, he’s an RFA again after this season) if he’s not in a winning scenario. The Catch-22 is the team needed to spell off players and salary in order to afford the Weber ruling in the first place. Welcome to being a budget team in the salary-capped NHL.

Things get even trickier when you consider that both Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne are both UFAs next July 1st and like Weber don’t want to be part of a team trending downward. And what’s the best way to indicate that the team is seriously committed to winning? Sign Shea Weber long term. If the Preds can’t keep Weber around long-term, it stings them on a number of levels, the least of which becomes the fan level.

Weber was drafted and developed by the Preds. He is 100 per cent theirs. He’s gone through their system, worked his way to the top, established himself as — in my estimation — the best defenceman in the NHL and if the Preds can’t keep him due to team performance, then they run the risk of becoming the NHL’s version of the Montreal Expos with Weber in the role of Randy Johnson.

Some bad news on Wednesday as the St. Louis Blues indicated that David Perron will not be starting the season with his team as he is still feeling the effects of a concussion from the Joe Thornton hit last November.

I exchanged texts with his agent Allan Walsh, who said: “David has made significant progress over the last few months. While he is still experiencing intermittent symptoms, we believe he is close to ramping up a training program and getting back on the ice. To attempt to put a time frame on his return now does not serve a useful purpose at this time.”

One of my new favourite follows on Twitter is former Whaler/Hurricane/Leaf Jeff O’Neill. When I was at University of Guelph, O’Neill was a star with the Storm. There was one season when I didn’t miss a single Storm home game, even during exams. Follow him a @odognine2 for beauts like this, “I just watched a grown man 5 putt the first green. Not sure of his name but it sounds like Brad May. @maydayhockey #layoffthecologne

On Wednesday, the Islanders mistakenly re-issued a press release from a year ago announcing the signing of Jon Sim to a one-year contract. Computer glitch. It happens (but man, I bet Sim was pretty excited). So I asked on Twitter: which press release would you like to see your team send out?

@finniganrevenge Dec 4, 1995 “the Montreal Canadiens have let go Mario Tremblay and Ronald Corey. Also have signed Patrick Roy to a 10 year deal”

@Steve_Dangle With no cap space left for players, Terry Pegula has announced the Sabres will now play with jerseys made of crisp $100 bills.”

@darrenalley The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced the signing of 25 year old Mats Sundin for the 2011-12 season

@schtimpy27 “Sharks admit offensive experiment didn’t work and managed to find someone to take Heatley’s contract.” Oh wait, that happened!

@kgwilson11 the Winnipeg Jets sign UFA Teemu Selanne!

@SWhyno Release I’d like to see: Capitals announce Alex Ovechkin is in shape, despite a bad picture showing otherwise.

@sctvman Jets move back to Atlanta.

@mlse Mike Komisarek signed his contract incorrectly and it is now void. The Leafs wish Mike all of the best…just kidding

@happygirl2525 Dallas Stars have new owner with deep pockets – Stars GM on shopping spree – press release I want to see from @StarsPR :-)

@davegisaac Release I’d like: NHL ends the charade and just announces the damn Winter Classic already.

@ChrisHowdy Islanders mistakenly issue press release from 2001 announcing Alexei Yashin signing.

Neat little story from Cassie Campbell Pascall on Wednesday over text: Hunter Shinkaruk, who plays for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and will represent Canada at the Ivan Hlinka U18 tournament later this month, used to skate with the Canadian National Women’s team as a six year old. Shinkaruk would be on the ice before the team came out and the squad would let him stay for the first 15 minutes or so of practice. But dig this; he’d be on the ice on his own for a full hour doing drills and working on skills. Unbelievably disciplined for a six year old! Shinkaruk’s father, Roger, also happens to be Cassie’s dentist. Smile, Cas!

On this day in hockey history

1921: Maurice Richard born in Montreal. What can I possibly tell you about The Rocket that you don’t already know? Hmm … a week before the Hal Laycoe stick-swinging incident, Richard went after Bob Bailey of the Maple Leafs with a couple of different sticks after Bailey grabbed a handful of snow and rubbed it in Rocket’s face during a fight that had went to the ice (remember that the next time people try to convince you that players used to have respect for one another out there). Rocket was warned about the stick-swinging immediately afterward. And an interesting note about Bailey: he was traded for Bill Dineen on three separate occasions. That has to be a record, right?

1955: Bengt Lundholm born in Falun, Sweden. He didn’t start his career until the age of 26 when he signed with the Winnipeg Jets. St. Louis also tried to sign him but he opted for the ‘Peg due to the number of Swedes who found their way onto the team. Before joining the NHL, Lundholm played hockey at night but by day was a kindergarten teacher.

1963: Ian Duncan born in Weston, Ontario. Played a little for the Winnipeg Jets (scored his first goal in his first game, a 10-1 Jets win over Rejean Lemelin and the Calgary Flames). I remember watching him play with the New Jersey Rockin’ Rollers of the RHI (Roller Hockey International). Manon Rheaume was the goalie for that team and Nick Fotiu even suited up for a couple of games with the Rollers. I miss that league.

1982: St. Louis trades Rick LaPointe to Quebec for Pat Hickey. Rick LaPointe, wow, I haven’t heard that name in years! I think all I have on him is he was Tom Bladon’s defence partner in Philadelphia the night Bladon set a record for points by a blueliner with eight (against the Cleveland Barons).

“The Sheet” reader profile

Name: Steven R
Twitter: @rockarts

Earliest hockey memory: Getting up at 5am with my Dad in the middle of winter to go to hockey practice when I was 5 years old. Dad threw my equipment bag in the back of his truck on top of the toolbox and on the way to the rink it went flying off into the snow. It was a good way to wake up at 5am but a cold practice.

Favourite YouTube hockey moment: This Steve Yzerman goal against the Hawks is a thing of beauty.
Yzerman banks the puck off the boards at the beginning to try to get to the net and around the defender. Cuts away from the two Hawks players and goes up the middle. Then fakes out the defenceman in front before deciding to put the Hawks out of their misery and roof it.

If you want to be part of the reader profile, copy/paste your answers/links and email them to me at