Ex-Canadiens forward Dale Weise still adjusting to new team

Eric Engels talks about the latest news around Montreal, including Dale Weise’s comments on PK Subban and David Desharnais.

MONTREAL — Dale Weise was hopeful to return to the Montreal Canadiens as a player, but when that opportunity passed, he looked forward to coming back as the opposition.

The now Philadelphia Flyers forward won’t get that chance Monday night after being suspended three games for his hit on Anaheim’s Korbanian Holzer last Thursday.

“It was the first thing that came to mind,” said Weise of learning that he wouldn’t get to play at Bell Centre. “Thankfully I’ll be back in two weeks with another game coming up on the schedule in Montreal.”

The six-foot-two winger was moved to Chicago from Montreal a few weeks ahead of last year’s trade deadline. Weise didn’t hear from Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin until it was too late when he became an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was among the first people to contact Weise and agent Alain Roy when the negotiation window opened a few days before the end of June, and the offer was too good to refuse. Philadelphia signed the Winnipeg native to a four-year deal worth US$9.4 million.

“I thought maybe they would want to know me better and ask questions and stuff like that, but it seemed they knew what they’d be getting,” said Weise. “It was really more about selling their team, their city and where they’re going.”

He added that the Flyers gave him the opportunity to be himself.

Weise has always been comfortable in his own skin and has never shied away from offering his opinion when asked for it. That was on display earlier Monday when asked by a Montreal reporter about the summer trade that sent defenceman P.K. Subban from the Canadiens to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber.

“I think (the Canadiens) were looking for an excuse and I think (Subban) was the guy who could easily be targeted as a distraction,” said Weise. “You see his personality, you see who he is. He is who he is all the time. When you see him on camera or on the ice, that’s P.K. Subban all the time. He doesn’t change. I never saw one guy have a problem with it in the locker-room. I think the team was looking to make an excuse. I think he’s an easy scapegoat.”

The 28-year-old scored 27 of his 37 career goals over parts of the last three seasons under coach Michel Therrien and only has good things to say about the Habs bench boss.

“I have a lot of respect and I owe a lot — period — to Michel Therrien for giving me the opportunity originally,” said Weise. “I had to earn my time there, I wasn’t just handed opportunities.

“Even after a strong playoffs my first year, he scratched me on opening night of the following season. He made me earn everything that I had, but I owe him a lot. He gave me a chance to play with good players and allowed me to evolve into the player that I am.”

Weise is slowly finding his way in Philadelphia and has quickly built rapport with head coach Dave Hakstol.

“He is completely different than any coach I’ve ever had,” said Weise. “He’s very personable. Going through this suspension and being on a new team and just having a dialog and stuff and having him be there for me is just something I’ve never had to this extent.

“He’s a guy you can sit down and have a conversation with and have lunch and just be natural around him, and then he’s a guy that commands respect when he needs it.”

Building chemistry with new teammates will be a lengthier process for Weise. He never really found his footing in Chicago and found himself out of the lineup more often than he imagined when he first got there in February.

Weise says sometimes you struggle and sometimes you get put with a player and it clicks instantaneously, such as Montreal’s David Desharnais last year.

“I think David Desharnais is an unbelievable centreman,” Weise said. “I have nothing but positive things to say about him, just from a linemate perspective. The flak that he takes there (in Montreal) is just mind-boggling. He’s a guy that was a No. 1 centre here for a couple of years, he produced tremendously with Max Pacioretty and I think that a lot of his goals were because of good setups from Davey.

“If Montreal doesn’t want him, we’ll be happy to take him in Philly.”

Weise has gone scoreless through four games with the Flyers while playing with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Scott Laughton, Matt Read and Nick Cousins.

“It’ll come,” he said. “Just gotta ride out this suspension and get going.”

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