Canadiens defenceman Mike Weaver and a magazine poster of teammate Max Pacioretty are photographed lounging in Florida on June 6, 2014. Weaver has had the poster of Pacioretty, which first was taped up in his Montreal dressing-room area as a gag, with him this summer. He’s had them photographed together here and on an airplane, at poolside, in Weaver’s truck and on a golf course, tweeting every image. And Weaver vows their summer of fun has just begun.
Photograph by: Mike Weaver
MONTREAL — Mike Weaver and Max Pacioretty began hanging out together in the Canadiens dressing room back in May. They’ve since been seatmates on an Air Canada flight from Montreal bound for Florida, relaxed together in the sun and at poolside, hit the road in Weaver’s truck and even played a round of golf.
Pacioretty hasn’t said a single word through all of this. But Weaver isn’t discouraged by his teammate’s silence, promising he’s got more planned for them this summer, beginning as soon as Friday.
But then, the Pacioretty with whom Weaver has been spending this quality time, each of their adventures posted on Weaver’s Twitter account, is just 21 inches tall from his head to his knees, 16 inches wide from left elbow to right glove.
Weaver is the real-life guy; Pacioretty is a poster photo that the defenceman extracted from the May-June Canadiens magazine and taped up in his Brossard dressing-room locker as a gag — until their “relationship” took on a life of its own.
“I’m the prankster on every team I’ve been on,” Weaver said, perhaps needlessly, as he began to explain his excellent summertime with Pacioretty. “But I’ve been kind of quiet so far in Montreal.”
Weaver arrived with the Canadiens from the Florida Panthers at the March trade deadline and would prove to be a valuable, defensively responsible, shot-blocking asset through the final 17 games of the regular season and the playoffs.
The 36-year-old native of Toronto wasn’t offered a contract by the Canadiens as he headed toward unrestricted free agency on July 1 — right up until 20 minutes before the free-agency window opened at 12 noon.
With veteran defenceman Josh Gorges to be traded to Buffalo within hours, Habs general manager Marc Bergevin surely saw the value of Weaver; the two rearguards play a similar stay-at-home, shot-blocking style, their steadiness useful as new, young defencemen feel their way into more games.
“I was pretty much stuck on (wanting) two years,” Weaver said of his contract wishes. “(Bergevin) wanted one so we hashed it out.”
In the end, Weaver returns to Montreal for one season at $1.75 million.
The joker inside the player immediately took to Twitter:
“Fier d’être de retour! We had the contract signed for a few weeks! Just wanted to keep everyone in suspense!” he tweeted.
Which of course was untrue, Bergevin brightly denying Weaver’s tongue-in-cheek claim at his news briefing later in the day.
The July 1 tweet was accompanied by a photo of Weaver sitting at a poolside patio table in Mississauga, the Pacioretty poster relaxing in a chair beside him.
That was the fifth of six photos Weaver has thus far tweeted of himself with Pacioretty, a travelogue that began almost on its own.
“It started with me and Thomas Vanek,” Weaver said of his fellow deadline-day acquisition. “We hung out a lot at the hotel.
“Patch is a great guy,” he added of Pacioretty, “so we started hanging out a little bit. It got to the point where (teammates) would rip on me about which guy I was hanging out with more.”
It was then that Weaver bent back the staples and removed the centre-spread poster of Pacioretty from a Canadiens magazine he found in the dressing room, taping it up on the inside of his locker-room door.
“I drew a goatee and a moustache on it,” Weaver said, having doodled twisty handlebars worthy of surrealist painter Salvador Dali. “A couple days later, someone drew (four) red hearts on it.”
For weeks, the poster remained in Weaver’s locker, a great gag seen only by teammates. That is, until May 31, three days after the Canadiens’ playoff elimination, when he took a photo of his locker and tweeted it with: “Cleaned out my stall today. Sad to see it end.”
The Internet buzz began instantly, increasing to a roar the next day.
Flying to Florida on June 1, Weaver sweet-talked the Air Canada cabin crew to hold the boarding of his flight for just a minute so he could drop into his window seat and set up Pacioretty, whom he’d taken down from his locker and packed in his carry-on, in the aisle seat next to him.
“Well bye Montreal. Patch and I off to Florida!” he tweeted with the photo taken by a flight attendant.
“A few passengers had to wait for her to take the picture,” Weaver said, laughing.
Pacioretty finally had to give up his seat to another passenger, “but Max did have a lot of leg room while he was in it,” Weaver pointed out.
Their bromance “snowballed” from there, Weaver said.
“I’ve taken him everywhere. People on Twitter ask me if I carry him around all the time. No, I have him in the glove box of my truck. The photo of him in the passenger seat of my F-150? People said he should be wearing a seatbelt.”
He’s got another dandy coming as soon as Friday, with more on the way.
Pacioretty, who isn’t on Twitter, has seen a couple of the photos that Weaver has messaged to him.
“He’s a riot,” Pacioretty told me from Florida, where he spends part of his off-season. “I’m glad Mike’s coming back.
“Funny thing is, when he was down in Florida, I didn’t get a text from him to hang out for real. I guess he was having too much fun with my poster.”
On the bright side, Pacioretty hasn’t had to buy so much as one beer for his teammate during their travels.
At the end of this, whenever that is, Weaver is considering having both players sign the well-travelled poster, framing it with photos of their summer together, and auctioning it off for charity, perhaps to benefit the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
Weaver embraces Twitter for all it’s worth, dropping in regularly to engage with fans and reply to their questions in rapid-fire, usually hilarious fashion. Like many on this social media platform, he yearns for the invention of a sarcasm font, some taking him literally no matter how outrageous he might be.
He introduced a #LeDream hashtag for himself; that’s an extension of the Dream Weaver nickname that’s followed him since his early days in pro hockey, a nod to singer Gary Wright’s 1976 monster hit of that name.
“Le Dream is my alter ego,” Weaver jokes, hoping the Canadiens might market a T-shirt featuring that or Dream Weaver with his No. 43.
He hasn’t, to put it charitably, filled the net during his 602-game NHL career, scoring eight times. But he does say he can remember each and every one of them.
The American League Chicago Wolves, for whom he played from 2001-04, boomed snippets of specific songs for each of its player’s goals.
“Halfway through the year, they said, ‘Why don’t we just play Dream Weaver when Weaver has a big hit?’ ” he recalled, laughing.
(Great trivia: on Gary Wright’s sixth solo album, Headin’ Home, released in 1979, production credits include an assistant sound engineer named John Michael Weaver.)
“I’m very sarcastic on Twitter,” Weaver said, laughing again. “The first couple of posts I did way back when, I was so nervous about posting the wrong thing.
“It’s almost like you’re in Las Vegas every single time, rolling the dice, because if you post the wrong thing, well, it’s not going to work out.”
It is great entertainment just to read through Weaver’s posts, especially his banter with fans.
He’s been into computers forever and this coming season will launch an innovative, interactive platform that will be a branding site for players while enabling fans to interact with them in real time.
Weaver spoke with great enthusiasm about the project, now deep in development, that will begin with hockey and he expects will branch out into other sports.
It will be monitored and moderated, not an anything-goes free-for-all, with only reliable information coming from its verified, authoritative participants in a variety of categories.
Hockey-mad Montreal, Weaver says, is both a perfect springboard for the project and a wonderful stop in his career. He admits he had no idea what to expect when he arrived here last March.
“It’s kind of unspoken that most players, deep down inside, don’t want to play for Montreal or Toronto. The media pressure is so great,” Weaver said. “I always wondered. When it happened, I was like, ‘Man…’
“I feel bad for (forwards) sometimes because it’s a lot easier to block a shot than it is to score a goal. … For me, I don’t do anything special. I block shots and I stop the opposition.
“The one thing I do in Montreal is recognized more here than it would be somewhere else. I think right now I’m just having fun with the attention and the media.”
And no doubt with his good buddy Max Pacioretty, two Canadiens enjoying an eventful, picture-perfect summer that will be long remembered.
By at least one of them.
Mike Weaver on Twitter: mikeweaver_43. His hockey school: defensefirst.com
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