Predators captain Shea Weber says he feels lucky to be skating again a week after taking a puck to the face that left him unable to see much at all until the next morning.
"Definitely very thankful and lucky that it wasn't worse," Weber said. "It could have been a lot worse and got a second chance here, and obviously hopefully it doesn't happen again."
Weber took a puck off his face near his right eye Nov. 28 in a 3-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, dropped to the ice and then skated off straight to the locker room. He practiced Friday for the first time and also wore a visor to protect his eyes after an injury that had him worried because of the blood affecting his vision.
"You can't see anything out of it and you wonder if it's long term," Weber said. "I mean you're uncertain, so you just have to wait and listen to what the doctor says and the guys that ... have dealt with these things before you make any assessment. I mean it's tough, but you don't want to jump to any conclusion."
As a veteran, Weber has been among those players allowed to play without a visor. He has finished second twice in voting for the Norris Trophy given out to the NHL's best defenceman, and he won a gold medal with Canada in the 2010 Olympics.
But he said he spent the first four or five days not allowed to leave the couch to allow his eye time to heal. He was able to see more the next day after the injury with his vision returning gradually.
Now Weber is getting used to wearing a visor that he previously had worn only in tournaments like the Olympics.
"We'll see how it goes," Weber said about the visor. "I mean for right now definitely don't want to take any second chances and don't want to get hit again. So, hopefully I can just get used to it and it's not going to be an issue and I can wear it going forward."
The Predators made a serious investment in the defenceman they drafted 49th overall in 2003 in July 2012 when they matched a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet by Philadelphia. The 6-foot-4, 234-pound defenceman also is a two-time All Star.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz predicted that wearing visors probably will be mandatory in the NHL in a couple years anywhere and pointed out Weber will need it in the 2014 Olympics, too. Trotz said he thinks Weber realizes he's gotten a second chance after an injury that could have been disastrous.
"He was able to avoid that, and obviously with that he's taken the right precautions by putting on the shield and having a very productive career and livelihood for a long, long time," Trotz said. "That's our goal with him and for him, and that's what he wants."
Weber accompanied the Predators on their trip, and Trotz said the defenceman may play Saturday night against the Washington Capitals.
The Predators certainly need their captain back.
Goalie Pekka Rinne has been out since needing arthroscopic surgery Oct. 24 to clean out a bacterial infection in his Oct. 24, and the Predators hope to pick up his activity from his rehab Dec. 20. But no date has been set for his return.
Weber defenceman has missed three games and was their leading goal scorer when he was hurt. With seven goals, he's tied with Erik Karlsson of Ottawa, Torey Krug of Boston and Michael Stone of Phoenix for most by defencemen. Nashville has lost three straight without him, and is 7-0 when Weber scores this season.
"Obviously, a tough stretch here and not playing the way we should be," Weber said.