'Undrafted Puck-Eater' Mike Weaver going into Brampton Sports Hall of Fame
Mike Weaver, seen here playing with the Florida Panthers, will be inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame on May 15. - Steve Russell/Torstar Network
Shortly after he retired from the NHL, Mike Weaver coined himself as an "undrafted puck-eater." Come May 15, he'll be known as a Brampton Sports Hall of Famer as well.
Despite not being drafted into the NHL and standing in at only five-foot-eight, the Brampton native enjoyed a 13-year, 633-game career in the NHL and was held in high regard because of his willingness to block shots, which resulted in him losing teeth on a number of occasions, as he explained in a Players' Tribune article in 2016.
The soon-to-be 40-year-old was somewhat surprised about being inducted this early since he is only three years removed from playing in the NHL.
"My dad, throughout the last couple of years, has been saying 'You've got to get inducted for sure,' and I was like 'We'll see,'" said Weaver, who played for six different NHL teams between 2001 and 2015. "Obviously it's a big honour and (it happened) pretty quick."
Weaver grew up playing hockey in both Bramalea and Chinguacousy before earning a full scholarship to Michigan State University.
There, he was a two-time Central Collegiate Hockey Association champion, best defensive defenceman, first-team all-star and NCAA West second-team All-American.
Weaver is proud to have earned a telecommunications degree from Michigan State, with a minor in virtual reality, software development and web design.
He's been able to apply that knowledge in one of his current endeavours, a coaching drills app called Coach Them that he developed along with former NHL goalie Robb Tallas.
“While everyone was on the plane, losing money at the poker table, I was designing websites,” said Weaver, reminiscing about his road trips in the NHL.
“Combined with my hockey school, I knew there had to be a better way of planning practice and designing drills. I didn’t want to do like everyone else out there. I wanted to do my platform completely native in the browser. It’s basically a web app, a complete, web-based platform.”
For 14 years, Weaver has also been running the Defence First Hockey School, where he instructs children on the finer points of playing defensive hockey while also imparting life lessons along the way, such as the importance of having a strong education to fall back on if you're pursuing a professional hockey career.
A former Bramalea Blue, Weaver finished his career with eight goals and 89 assists in 633 NHL games with the Atlanta Thrashers, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens.
As a teenager, he attended two NHL drafts and wasn't picked in either of them, but he realized going undrafted was more advantageous for him since he had a choice of where he'd start his career as no one owned his NHL rights.
Although he was never fortunate enough to win a Stanley Cup in his career — the closest he got was an appearance in the Eastern Conference final with the Canadiens in 2014 — but he did begin his professional career with two minor hockey titles, the 2001 International Hockey League championship with the Orlando Solar Bears, followed by the 2002 Calder Cup with the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves.
Both of those teams were part of the Thrashers' farm system. Weaver is grateful to former Atlanta general manager Don Waddell for taking a chance on him when no one else did.
"He was ahead of the curve," Weaver said. "One of the best things he did our first year was said all rookies are going down to the minors."
Weaver's family has strong ties to Brampton's hockey scene. His grandfather, Roy Morris, was a founder of the Brampton Canadettes Easter Tournament, the largest and longest-running female hockey tournament in the world. His mother was a former Canadettes captain and his father was a tournament organizer and volunteer.
Last month, Brampton was one of the stops on the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour and Weaver was proud to be speak with hosts Tara Slone and Ron MacLean during the broadcast.
"It's amazing how Brampton has grown and thrived," Weaver said. "Ron MacLean was saying it was by far the biggest crowd and he didn't just say it on air, he ended up telling me as a side note, it was insane the support Brampton has."
Weaver will be inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame along with powerlifter Harnet Singh Rai, former professional boxer Richard Souce and longtime tennis volunteer Rosemary Miller, who's being inducted as a builder on May 15 during a ceremony at Rose Theatre.
Canadian Football League legend and four-time Grey Cup champion Damon Allen will be the keynote speaker at the induction dinner on May 15. Tickets to the event are available at the Rose Theatre box office or at rosetheatre.ca.