FRANKLIN – Given the unpredictable nature of his injury, Nashville Predators personnel say they are wary of creating unnecessary or unrealistic expectations regarding Shea Weber’s possible return.
They did not help themselves in that regard Tuesday.
Weber, the captain and Nashville’s highest-paid player, completed a full workout before an overflow crowd at A-Game Sportsplex. The practice session was part of an afternoon full of grassroots activities designed to promote awareness of the Predators and hockey in general at the multi-sport facility in Cool Springs.
Those who watched the veteran defenseman take part in everything from individual drills to work with the power play unit had every reason to believe that he would be ready and in the lineup for Nashville’s next game against the Dallas Stars (7 p.m. Thursday, Bridgestone Arena).
“He did well,” coach Barry Trotz said. “There’s still no timeline on him. I thought it was encouraging to see him out there [Tuesday]. There’s definitely no timeline.
“When he feels comfortable and he feels he’s ready to go then he’ll come and let us know.”
Weber has not said anything publicly since he first experienced symptoms of a concussion during a morning skate on Dec. 26. Franchise officials again refused to make him available to the media following Tuesday’s workout.
He has missed the last four games.
“I think he had a lot of fun [Tuesday],” Trotz said. “He said he was going stir crazy just riding the bike. When you’re not playing you turn into a piece of luggage. You’re part of the team but you’re not. He’s a big part of our team.
“… When he gets back in the lineup he’ll be 100 percent.”
Aside from his basic competitive nature, there is extra motivation for Weber to return to action Thursday.
He sustained the injury as a result of a hit by Stars’ defenseman Mark Fistric late in a 4-1 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. The Predators submitted video of the impact to the league for review but no disciplinary action was taken against Fistric.
“It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look bad on the ice, it still can be a terrible injury,” goalie Pekka Rinne said. “A player could be out for months and months. … It’s one of those things that you don’t really know until the symptoms go away and the guy gets better.
“So it’s always scary to hear that a teammate has a concussion. Those are the ones you don’t want to see happen to anybody.”
Nashville lost center Matthew Lombardi for the final 80 games of last season to a concussion. Defenseman Francis Bouillon missed the final 37 games, experienced a setback during the offseason and did not return to action until the eighth game of this season because of the same injury.
That is what made Weber’s presence throughout Tuesday’s workout such a positive sign.
“We just kept him out of a little bit of the contact stuff,” Trotz said. “We probably should have put him in a different jersey but everybody knew not to run into him. There was no real hitting drills or anything like that.
“Between the doctors, the trainers and Shea, they will make that decision [on when to play again]. We have, and I’m sure he has no timeframe as well.”
Still, it looks as if it won’t be long.
• Tickets are still available for Thursday’s game.
A sellout would be a franchise-record seventh in a row. The only other time six straight attracted full houses was March 16-April 11, 1999.
“You can see how the team is growing roots,” Trotz said. “… It is exciting for the players to see the building’s full. Trust me, we feed off the energy our fans give us.”