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LIVE FROM LAS VEGAS: Weber takes 2nd in Norris voting…

He was up against the tallest defenseman ever in Zdeno Chara. And one of the greatest ever in Nicklas Lidstrom. Needless to say Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber was just thrilled to be in the same breath as those guys.

Weber, in an experience he’ll never forget, earned second place in the 2011 Norris Trophy voting as the NHL’s best defenseman. Lidstrom ended up taking home the award by a margin of only nine points.

Lidstrom garnered 736 points in the voting (35 first place votes, 23 second place, 34 third place, 15 fourth place and 10 fifth place). Weber narrowly missed the award scoring 727 points (32-41-14-14-8). Chara appeared to be a distant third with 688 points (33-24-24-20-10).

Fun fact: Ryan Suter received two fifth place votes (15th place) while former Preds defenseman Dan Hamhuis got just one (tied-16th).

If he’d have won the award, Weber would’ve become the first player in franchise history to win a performance-based post season award. Forward Steve Sullivan took home the Masterton in 2009 after he missed nearly two full years with a back injury before returning to the ice. He would go onto finish that season with an incredible 32 points in 41 games, almost as if he’d never left.

But the real story was that Sullivan came back at all. In this case, Weber played the entire year (all 82 games, in fact) and he flourished in his new role as team captain. The Sicamous, British Columbia native led his team in scoring until the final couple weeks of the season, is only 25 years old and, once he hit his stride in early December, tallied 38 points in the final 55 games. Oh yeah, and he was plus-14 over that same stretch.

Weber would’ve been the highest sought-after defenseman on the market come July 1 but the Predators filed for arbitration. Per league rules, a restricted free agent may not be tendered an offer sheet by another team. As General Manager David Poile had stated, this was purely a safety net move as they just need a little more time to get a deal done. By filing for arbitration with him, it prevents another team from swooping in and making a ridiculous offer on Weber.

We now turn our attention to the Vezina Trophy announcement coming in about an hour. Will Pekka Rinne be able to say he’s the first Nashville Predators player ever to win a performance-based post season award?

But congratulations to Shea Weber for even being nominated. At the beginning of the season, as it had always been, it was impossible to find a Predators player featured in any NHL commerical. But now we have Shea Weber-based feature promos on NHL Network and a few History Will Be Made spots that ran regularly during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Buckle up Preds fans. There’s a spotlight on Music City now.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover //