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Shea Weber practices with Predators

Jan 4, 2012, 9:45 PM EDT

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Shea Weber AP

Tuesday provided an interesting mix of players going on or off the injured reserve, but the most promising news was more of a baby step in the right direction. Shea Weber practiced with the Nashville Predators yesterday, but there’s still no timetable for his return to NHL action.

One interesting side note is that Weber didn’t wear a no-contact jersey, yet head coach Barry Trotz admitted that perhaps he should have.

It’s unlikely that you need to be told how important the hard-shooting defenseman is to the Predators, but the fact that he’s the team’s leader in points (along with less surprising categories) should show how vital he is to their success. That being said, there is a silver lining to his absence as Ryan Suter gets a chance to show that he’s more than just the Robin to Weber’s Batman.

(Of course, Suter’s sans-Shea success might be useful when it’s time for him to sign his next contract, so there’s that.)

Concussions have been a spirit-crushing problem in the NHL, but they haven’t been uniformly damning, as Claude Giroux‘s comeback is proof that a player can return to action at near full-strength with surprising speed. Every case is different, however, and Nashville is wise to tread lightly considering Weber’s physical style and undeniable importance.

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