Shea Weber (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
Shea Weber came oh-so-close to breaking the NHL record in the hardest shot competition after pounding the puck 108.5 miles per hour during the all-star skills competition Saturday night. Perhaps he's waiting for next year in Nashville to set the new benchmark.
COLUMBUS – All right, so Shea Weber wins the hardest shot competition after finishing as runner-up three times. This is the same Shea Weber who has been a finalist, but not a winner, of the Norris Trophy in each of the past four seasons.
Soooo, if he’s finally removed the hardest shot monkey off his back, it only stands to reason we should be expecting an addition to his trophy case after the season, right?
“I know where you’re going with this,” Weber told thn.com after winning the event with a 108.5 blast, the second hardest shot in the history of the event. “I’m not going there.”
He should be. Because it’s only a matter of time before the man in Nashville with a bomb for a shot is officially ordained as the league’s top defenseman. With a $14 million salary, he’s already the top-paid defenseman in the league and his $7.9 million cap hit is second only to P.K. Subban’s $9 million. And he confirmed Saturday night during the all-star skills competition what everyone has suspected for some time, that he has the hardest shot in all of hockey.
Weber’s blast, which came on his second attempt after missing the net with his first, is second only to the record-setting 108.8 mile-per-hour blast Zdeno Chara recorded as a member of the Ottawa Senators. Perhaps Weber is saving the record breaker for next year when his Nashville Predators host all-star weekend. Maybe then Chara will be included and the two monsters can have a face-to-face encounter in the event.
Prior to Saturday night, Weber’s best shot was 106 miles per hour. Because of the lockout two years ago and the Olympics last year, Weber said he hadn’t actually had the velocity of his shot measured in some time. The one thing that is different is Weber changed his stick brand from Easton to Bauer and uses a Total One NXG Bauer stick now. But he claims he’s not a really big stick guy, one of those guys you see outside of NHL dressing rooms constantly doctoring his stick.
“No, I pretty much just tape it up and use it,” Weber said. “Once I get one that I really like, I don’t change it. I want (the manufacturer) to keep making them the same.”
The night could have been a complete embarrassment for Weber. He got himself into such a pre-competition lather that he missed the net with his first shot.
“I just kept saying to myself, ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it,’ and then it happens. I was so embarrassed,” Weber said. “But that’s what hockey players live for. We love to put pressure on ourselves.”
Weber’s shot is legendary around the league. Taking it away from him is part of every opponent’s game plan, but there are times when it can’t be avoided. It’s coming and it may hit and hurt you. Weber said he feels badly anytime anyone limps off the ice after taking one of his shots.
“You don’t want to see anybody get hurt out there,” he said. “There’s one guy who was traded this year (Patric Hornqvist) who has a few broken bones because of it. It’s tough because you don’t want to hurt guys, but you want to score goals.”
Weber could eventually break Chara’s record, but he’s not obsessed with doing so.
“I just want to keep getting better and better every year,” he said. “I think as kids we strive to get better at everything we do. You don’t want to get worse. You want to continually get better.”
Alex Ovechkin, who has been known to terrorize a few goalies from the top of the circle with his shot on the power play, finished a surprising second with a blast that clocked in at 101.4 miles per hour.
“I was so close, but I’ll take it. A hundred miles, pretty cool,” Ovechkin said. “I think if somebody is going to give (Weber) a pass and he’s going to hit the puck moving, it’s going to be a much harder shot, 100 percent.”