Preds say Weber has concussion, hope for quick recovery

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at 2:59pm

The Nashville Predators know what they have to do.

It’s the how and for how long that are not clear.

The team announced Tuesday morning that team captain Shea Weber has been diagnosed with a concussion as a result of a hit he took late in last Friday’s loss at Dallas. He missed Monday’s game against Detroit — a 4-1 defeat — and no timetable was set for his return, although there was optimism that his would not be a sustained absence.

The team’s leader in points (29), assists (21) and power play goals (five) will not play Wednesday against the Minnesota Wild (7 p.m., Bridgestone Arena, Fox Sports-Tennessee).

“We all know everyone has to step up and play better,” alternate captain and veteran defenseman Ryan Suter said. “It’s the media that makes it an issue. In this room, it’s not an issue. We know what we have in here, and we’re going to play as hard as we can no matter who’s in the lineup. … Whoever’s getting dressed has to go out and play hard.”

Weber was not available for comment Tuesday morning. According to team personnel, he had been at Bridgestone Arena in the morning and reported feeling better.

He first experienced symptoms during Monday’s morning skate and left before that session was finished. The team was off Saturday and Sunday for the league’s Christmas break.

“Actually, he’s doing quite well,” coach Barry Trotz said. “He won’t play [Wednesday], but there’s a chance for Friday [at St. Louis]. So he’s recovering pretty well, I would say. But nothing’s for sure.

“He felt pretty good through the weekend. It really caught us off guard, caught him off guard a little bit until we skated [Monday].”

Suter already was the team’s leader in average ice time and it figured that his on-ice presence only would increase without Weber.

That was not the case against Detroit. He played 26:24, which was 29 seconds less than his average prior to that contest.

Rookie Roman Josi assumed the bulk of the minutes. He played 22:07, which was well above his average of 14:20. Jonathon Blum also exceeded his average ice time by nearly a minute and a half and Ryan Ellis, in his NHL debut, played more than 18 minutes.

Between them, Blum, Josi and Ellis have played a combined 70 NHL games, which amounts to less than a full season of experience for one player.

“Going into the game you’re like, ‘OK, I’m going to play a lot more,’” Suter said. “After the game it was, 'Hmm. Interesting.’ "

“Obviously, whatever it takes to win. I just want to win. If it takes me playing over 30 minutes, I would love to do it because if it’s going to help us win then I want to do it.”

In addition to Weber’s injury, veteran Kevin Klein missed the last four games with what has been ruled “illness.” He practiced Tuesday but did not convince coaches that he was ready to return to game action.

“We have three young [defensemen] back there, and it’s not only the young [defensemen] but the older [defensemen] that are going to have to play more minutes,” Trotz said. “If they’re capable or not, we’ll have to see. There’s no one else to look at. We have to pick those … minutes that Shea plays [and] sort of distribute it to different people.”

Weber has not missed more than four games in any of the last three seasons. He was the only Nashville player who appeared in all 82 regular season and all 12 playoff games in 2010-11.

The last Nashville player sidelined by a concussion was defenseman Francis Bouillon, who missed the final 37 games of last season and the first seven of this one because of the injury.

“It's tough on [Weber] because he wants to play every game,” Trotz said. “He’s a real competitive guy. He’s our leader. There’s no question he’s a big part of what we do and how we do it, and he wants to be a part of it.

“We’ll just have to carry on without him and we’ll need a lot of guys to step up.”