Penguins notebook: Cranberry's Mike Weber gets first crack at hometown team since joining Capitals
March 2, 2016 12:00 AM
Gary Wieper/Associated Press
Then-Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel chases then-Sabres defenseman Mike Weber in a game last season at Buffalo.
By Jenn Menendez / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
WASHINGTON — Gritty defenseman Mike Weber, a Cranberry native, spent nine years with the Buffalo Sabres before being traded for the first time in his NHL career last week.
Tuesday, he made his Washington Capitals debut against a familiar opponent.
“It’s exciting,” said Weber, who was set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. “I’ll try to be me, and continue to play the way I am. I’m a pretty simple player. Just play hard and compete hard.”
It has been a whirlwind stretch for Weber, who had just finished a West Coast road swing before learning he was traded. Soon after he began his drive to the nation’s capital, he heard his wife was in labor and about to give birth to the couple’s second son, J.J.
“Turned around,” said Weber, who is living temporarily in a hotel. “It’s been a crazy week. It’s nice to get back to work and do my job.”
Weber was still getting familiar with Washington Tuesday, thanks to defensive partner Nate Schmidt, who he said had been his “chauffeur” the past few days.
Before the game, Weber said, yes, he still looks forward to facing the favorite NHL team of his youth. He was a big fan of former Penguins greats Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Paul Coffey.
“I was a young man when they won their Cups, and it was a lot of fun, so obviously I grew up watching all those guys,” Weber said. “They were pretty special players and were my favorite team growing up.”
Schultz available Thursday
Newly acquired defenseman Justin Schultz will be available for the home game Thursday night against the New York Rangers, coach Mike Sullivan said before the game against Washington.
High marks for Kessel
Phil Kessel earned high marks from Sullivan for his coachability. A reporter asked Sullivan what Kessel has been like “as far as being a coachable player?”
“Oh he’s great. He’s great,” Sullivan said. “All of these guys have been very receptive to our message and what we’re trying to preach here. I think everybody’s buying in. I think we’re becoming more difficult to play against, and that’s going to be a constant process.”
As for his play? Sullivan answered: “Phil’s been pretty good. I thought his line was good [Monday] night. He scored some goals as of late. He’s been dangerous on the power play. That’s what he brings to our team.”
Defenseman Steve Oleksy was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the third time in a week Tuesday, but was the team’s healthy scratch again. … The game against the Capitals was the makeup for the Jan. 24 one that was snowed out. … Former Penguins forward Daniel Winnik is expected to make his Capitals debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight in Washington. The Capitals acquired Winnik Sunday from Toronto in a trade that sent Brooks Laich, Connor Carrick and a 2016 second-round draft pick to the Maple Leafs.
Jenn Menendez: email@example.com and Twitter @JenMenendez.
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