Unless it’s to say hi before games in Seattle, and likely Vancouver, Shea Weber is not walking through the Montreal Canadiens’ dressing room door.
Jonathan Drouin admitted what most people have thought but avoided to say outright: Weber has moved on from his NHL career. Now it’s time for the Canadiens to as well.
Not naming a captain is a symbolic gesture, as well as making sure someone doesn’t get the inevitable task of replacing Weber. It’s understandable that Dominique Ducharme and Marc Bergevin are putting their faith in a group of players in the absence of not only Weber, but perhaps the true dressing room leader in Carey Price.
Internally, though, someone needs to be the player that steps up. They need someone that is the conscience, the force, the player who rallies everyone together. A leadership group is necessary too, but when a team is lacking confidence and looking for a direction, they need someone to look at.
Weber, Phillip Danault, and Corey Perry are not coming back. Price, Paul Byron, and Joel Edmundson also are leaders in the room, and they are still out for a not insignificant period of time. The Canadiens have more talent than what they have shown so far this year, and the issues are not for a lack of trying. If anything, some players may be pushing a little too hard.
Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry are the most obvious players to step up, they always seem to have a good pulse of what needs to change and what has happened with the team. Players like Nick Suzuki, and Ben Chiarot, and others are also part of the leadership group. Veterans like David Savard, Mathieu Perreault, and Jake Allen surely have experience to draw on.
A 1-6-0 start is not great, in fact, it’s quite bad. It’s the kind of stretch that can have a team without a leader go into a tailspin. The Canadiens simply need someone — anyone — to take the team by the collar and lead them forward, because if they keep looking back, that’s the direction they’ll continue to move.