Dale Weise, our favourite guy in the whole wide universe, got the nickname the Dutch Gretzky after playing for the renowned (eds. note: You’re kidding, right?) Tilburg Trappers in the Netherlands during the NHL lock-out in the 2012-2013 season. As a Trapper, Weise notched 22 goals and 26 assists in 19 games and, unsurprisingly, became a major fan favourite in this country more known for exporting coaches to Manchester United than producing great hockey players.
Until now, the whole funny thing about the story was the contrast between those superstar heroics in the hash cafés of Amsterdam…..I mean the hockey rinks of the Netherlands and his lack of superstar heroics in the Big League here. Until last season, the most goals he’d ever scored in the NHL was six, in 2013-2014, the year he was traded from the Vancouver Canuck to the Canadiens in exchange for Rafael (not Cameron) Diaz.
Last season, he hit a career high, with ten goals. In short, he wasn’t being called the Canadian Gretzky. But now that might not be a bad moniker. Weise scored again Thursday night in Montreal’s 4-1 victory over Jaroslav Halak’s New York Islanders, a beauty of a goal as he redirected a slapper from Jeff Petry during a power play. That gives him eight goals so far this season, in just 15 games. At this rate, he’ll score 43.7 goals this season!
Of course he won’t score 43.7 goals. Because you can’t score 0.7 of a goal. Well also cos he just won’t. He is going to slow down at some point. I mean this is crazy. He has more goals than any other Hab, including Patch. He’s only two goals below league scoring leader Jamie Benn and is ahead of Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Alex Ovechkin.
So what the hell is going on here? Weise is a third-line winger (who’s also done much time as a fourth-line winger). Well part of the story is he happens to be comfortably ensconced on the Habs’ best line right now. Yeah they’re the third line on paper but centre David Desharnais, and wingers Weise and Thomas ‘Flash’ Fleischmann have been on fire. Did you see Flash set-up wee Davey for that goal Thursday night? Wow. (Both Flash and Gretzky are classic Marc Bergevin pick-ups. They didn’t cost much, neither in terms of money nor in terms of what the team had to give up.) And Flash is a big part of the Weise success too. Go back and look at the third Weise goal in his first-ever NHL hat trick, against Calgary the other night. It’s just unreal what Flash does with the puck there.
But Weise is also playing remarkably well. Notice how he always seems to be in the right position, like when he banged in that pass from Galchenyuk at the side of the net Tuesday against Ottawa. And he’s always been one of the real hard workers, a quality kindly ol’ coach Michel Therrien values over all else.
So look the dream run will end at some point, just like the Habs’ no-loss streak. And he won’t score 40 goals. But if he scores 25 – which is entirely possible – and then has his usual great playoff run, he just might be the difference between going just two rounds deep in the post-season and something much more interesting.
- Brendan Kelly