MONTREAL – Dale Weise opened plenty of eyes in 2013-14, and the Canadiens wasted little time making sure the 25-year-old was staying put for the foreseeable future.
On Tuesday, Weise and the Canadiens agreed to a two-year contract extension through the 2015-16 campaign, ensuring the right winger would be donning the bleu-blanc-rouge once again come fall.
“I’m so excited to be coming back to Montreal. I think everybody knows that I’m very excited to be a part of the Montreal Canadiens. This is where I want to be,” offered the Winnipeg native, who racked up three goals and four points in 17 regular season games with the Habs after being acquired on Feb. 3 from the Vancouver Canucks, in exchange for defenseman Raphael Diaz. “To get a deal done so early in the summer was big for me. A two-year deal gives some nice security for me and my family. I’m really looking forward to getting back there and getting back at it.”
A revelation in the postseason, Weise was a difference-maker when the stakes were at their highest, providing the Habs with an energy boost at every opportunity. He registered three goals – including two game winners – and seven points in 16 playoff games, quickly proving that he could take his game to another level when his team needed him most.
The three-year NHL veteran credits head coach Michel Therrien with playing a pivotal role in helping him showcase what he could do upon arrival in La Belle Province.
“When I got to Montreal, Michel Therrien had a one-on-one meeting with me right away. He said that even though he didn’t know a lot about me, he knew after the first couple of games that I could be a guy who could make a difference with my speed. He told me not to be a guy who was content with just chipping the puck in and chipping the puck out. He said I could do more, and that he believed in me,” confided Weise, who was drafted 111th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. “I think that’s the biggest thing. Right from the get go, he believed that I could do more than just chip the puck out and chip it in. Just having that confidence that he instilled in me really went a long way.”
As did the unwavering support of his teammates, something Weise believes cannot be emphasized enough.
“Offense isn’t my main focus, but it was nice to contribute and be a part of it and score some big goals. I’ll be looking to continue doing that next year throughout the regular season. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the guys I played with,” praised Weise, who averaged just over 10 minutes of ice time per game in the playoffs, amassing a plus-5 differential along the way. “I think I had some good chemistry with Daniel Briere. We fed off each other. Whether it was [Travis] Moen or Prusty [Brandon Prust] or [Michael] Bournival, I think those guys were all great players and they contributed to my success.”
Comfortable in his new hockey home, Weise – a lifelong Habs fan – is already chomping at the bit to play in front of the Bell Centre faithful once again come October.
“I could go on all day about what I enjoyed about playing in Montreal. Just being a part of the Montreal Canadiens. Playing at the Bell Centre was a dream come true for me. Every game is just so exciting to play there – the crowd is so loud, the fans are amazing. They just embraced me,” offered Weise, who is back in the gym and is symptom-free after sustaining a concussion in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Rangers. “If I had to pinpoint one thing, I think the best part about being in Montreal was just finally being appreciated. I felt like I was in a situation where the team wanted me, and people just appreciated having me on the team.”
Weise reciprocated that appreciation by posting career numbers and helping the Habs to their deepest postseason run since 1993 before signing on the dotted line on Tuesday.
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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