On Thursday morning, long after all his Sabres teammates had departed the ice, defenseman Mike Weber stayed out, going through extra drills with three assistant coaches. Finally, after about 15 minutes, a sweaty Weber entered the dressing room.
The 23-year-old spent a few minutes chatting, then took off his equipment and began an off-ice workout. About eight hours later, as the Sabres played the Columbus Blue Jackets, Weber was underneath the First Niagara Center stands, working out again and watching the game on a television in the team’s training facilities.
Days like Thursday have become normal for Weber. The Sabres’ defense depth has made him the odd man out, a spare part. Nine games in, the American still hasn’t played.
Weber, a steady regular last season after sitting almost two straight months, thought he had overcome being a healthy scratch. Then the Sabres added defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr during the offseason.
“After last year, the part I played, the consistency I had, I was pretty happy with the way I performed and obviously pretty happy with training camp,” Weber said Thursday morning prior to the Sabres’ 4-2 win. “But obviously we added some key additions and some big names. It’s put me in this situation again. I’m just trying to stay positive.”
How has Weber handled it?
“Not very well, and no player should, obviously,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “He was a good part of our team last year. It’s a tough situation right now.”
That situation could be changing, though. Common sense says Weber, who sat the first eight games last year and 20 of the first 22, won’t sit forever.
Last season, Weber’s toughness added a new dimension. Regehr fills that role now. But at some point the Sabres will need Weber’s fearsome edge.