Weber opens up about injury, season-ending surgery, Canadiens’ struggles

Brendan Gallagher scored twice to help lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Monday.

BROSSARD, Que. — It was on March 13 that Montreal Canadiens defenceman Shea Weber had season-ending surgery to repair tendons in his left foot.

He played 26 games on what he was first told was a fracture, scoring six goals and adding 10 assists over that time.

What was discovered roughly a month after Weber was shut down in mid-December following the NHL 100 Classic at Landsdowne Park in Ottawa was that he had suffered damage to his tendons.

Upon consulting with a specialist in Toronto and then meeting with a surgeon in Green Bay, it was decided he would need surgery.

On Tuesday, Weber, who had his left leg in a walking boot and resting on a scooter, met with the media to provide an update on his condition, on the rehabilitation process he must undergo, on this difficult season for the 28-37-12 Canadiens and on his preparedness to return at full health in time for next season’s training camp.

Q: How tough was sitting out with this?

Shea Weber: "It’s hard. It’s been a hard year for everyone, obviously for the whole team, and it’s been a battle. I tried to get through, but at the end of the day the situation was to take care of it and get ready for next season."

Q: When and how did you get hurt?

SW: "There’s no point exactly. I got hit in the first game in Buffalo I think and there was a fracture of some sort. I don’t think we found it right away and the problem ended up being the tendon so it’s not like the surgery was for [the fracture]. Somewhere along the line the tendon damaged and needed to be repaired and that’s what we took care of a couple of weeks ago.

Q: Did the fracture cause the damage to the tendon?

SW: "It looked like maybe the fracture caused some damage to the tendon, but it’s hard really to tell and at the end of the day I’ve played with fractures before, so if they would’ve told me it was fracture at the start of the year I don’t think I would’ve done anything different. I probably would’ve played through it as best as I could and obviously it’s unfortunate that it ended up making it worse and damaging it. I think constantly playing on it made it worse."

Q: Did playing outdoors make it worse?

SW: "No. I don’t think so. It got to a point where I was like, ‘I don’t even know if I can keep going here.’"

Q: We imagine you played through a lot of pain. How did you do it? Did you have injections?

SW: "I had one. It was painful for sure. I think you guys knew. We met about this a lot. I was trying to find a way to get through it, help the team, and it’s just the way it goes. You play through pain. I mean, everyone plays through it. It’s just something we deal with on a daily basis, but it obviously got to a point where I just felt like there was something more severe than just the pain. My body was trying to tell me something. Something more was going on."

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Q: How will your summer be affected?

SW: "I don’t think it will be [affected] because the surgery was a little bit earlier. I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference as far as training [is concerned]. I think I’ll be able to go full board here…obviously not for a while. I still can’t walk here yet, but once we’re given the green light we’re going to do some rehab and obviously build it up and do as much as we can and be ready to go."

Q: The Canadiens are confident you’ll be ready for next training camp. Do you have assurances that will be the case?

SW: "There’s never any assurances, but that’s my plan. Obviously I’m going to work as hard as I can — just like I do every summer. There’s a little bit more of something I’ve got to work through, but that’s something that I’ll be able to do and be back."

Q: Have you ever had to deal with something like this before?

SW: “No. Knock on wood, hopefully I don’t break anything anymore. I broke my ankle in 2010, played through it. I think I missed about 50 games one year early on in Nashville with an injury, but this is definitely the longest one that I’ve tried to fight through and I’ve never gone through this much rehab for something.”

Q: When was the tendon identified as the real issue?

SW: "It was in January when we went for a second opinion to Toronto."

Q: Did you know surgery would be necessary at that point?

SW: "We didn’t know for sure. That’s why I went to Green Bay at that point; to see someone else to make sure we were going in the right direction and that was what was recommended by another guy. So I think surgery is always the last option. You don’t want to have it unless it’s necessary. And I think in this case, especially once we got in there and saw it, it was definitely the right decision."

Q: Was it just a single tendon?

SW: "There was a little bit of a repair to the second one, but the major one was one of them that was the biggest issue through the whole thing."

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Q: How long are you in the boot?

SW: "Another six weeks."

Q: Was it the pain that made you stop or was it that you were scared it would be worse if you kept playing?

SW: "I think it was a combination of both. As I continued it got worse and progressively got worse and I think that’s when I kind of thought something else might be going on — that it wasn’t just the fracture. I think that’s when I wanted to try to figure out if there was something else we could do to fix it."

Q: If there’s no big changes during the summer, are you confident that this team can bounce back quickly?

SW: "We can, of course. We had some big injuries this year. Our No. 1 guy on the back end [Carey Price] was hurt for a lot and with him I think it’s possible to win any night. We get him back, and a lot of the young guys in here got some experience that maybe they weren’t able to get in other years and that’s going to help in the long run as well.

"It’s a learning experience. I think everyone in here needs to remember what this feels like. Obviously it doesn’t feel good. It’s hard. There’s days when it’s tough coming to the rink, you know you’re not playing your best hockey and you know you’re not in the playoffs. It’s tough. I think that we’ve done some good things and we’ve learned, especially in the last few weeks and months here, the young guys have got some experience that will be handy for them moving forward."

Price battled through injuries of his own this season. (Graham Hughes/CP)

Q: Will things be same for you moving forward?

SW: "There’s never any assurance, but [Dr. Robert Anderson’s] operated on other guys before this that seemed to be doing well and still at the top of their game. So I’m confident I can put in as much work as I can and be back to where I was at the start of this year."

Q: What was affected by the injury?

SW: "I mean, everything. You don’t want to deal with that much. You try and mentally focus on everything else but at the end of the day there’s obviously that issue you’re dealing with. You try to put it on the side burner but it affects you all over. It’s something that you use when you’re shooting, when you’re skating. It can’t be hidden. It’s something that you deal with every play and stride that you make out there. It’s tough."

Q: You were placed in a walking boot for six weeks. Was it surprising to come out of it with little to no progress?

SW: "Yeah, I think that’s where things…I thought maybe we needed to go get it looked at from a different set of eyes. I think I expected to be back to full health, I don’t think we knew the severity of it at that point. Coming out of the boot you give it a few days, obviously it’s been in a boot for that long you expect to come out of it and be ready to go. But you step on the ice and it’s definitely not where I expected it. So we made a decision to go get it checked out and thankfully we got it taken care of."

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Q: Is it troubling expecting one thing and it not happening?

SW: "Mentally I think that was part of the battle for the year. From what you understand there’s nothing severely wrong, you think you’ve just got to tough it out and battle your way through it. Then it gets to a point where you almost know something else is going on but you don’t want to say anything. It’s just find your way through it. But I think this one, there was just no other way to get through it."

Q: Why push it?

SW: "You don’t want to make excuses. Everybody plays hurt, everyone’s got issues. The last thing you want to do is sit here and say, ‘Well I’m struggling because I’m hurt’ and this, that and the next thing. There’s a lot of reasons why you’re not at the top of your game, so you just kind of put it aside and find a way. I think we were just kind of taught that way growing up. You play through stuff, and I think a lot of pro sports guys try to play through it and get the job done."

Q: If that mentality wasn’t there could it have been dealt with better?

SW: "That’s tough to say because I feel I have a responsibility to my teammates. They go out there every night and work their butts off for me and I want to do the same for them. I don’t want to let anyone down and I think that’s the biggest thing. You want to be here for the fans obviously, but I think the guys in this locker room are what mean the most to you and the guys you battle for and you want to be here for every night."

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Q: What are the next steps?

SW: "Heading home after the season is over and doing rehab, I will likely have to come back to get approval to start skating either from the team doctor or surgeon.

"I can put weight on it next week."

Q: Do you think you’ll be consulted on imminent changes for the team?

SW: "I think everyone doing their job knows what they’re doing. For us, we’re just expected to play and be better. We’ve got to be a lot better as a team in here, everyone, myself included. We’ve got to be better from the get-go, from the pre-season, and that will lead into the start of the season."

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