Mike Weber was one of many that seemed to relax and play better after Ron Rolston took over. He was very good on the penalty kill blocking many shots and just being solid.

Others that also seemed to improve once Lindy Ruff left were Tyler Myers and Jhonas Enroth.

Every season Weber seems to start as the team’s number seven or eight defenseman but works his way into the top six. This season I think he has a good chance to start in the top six. Ron Rolston has used him with number one pick Rasmus Ristolainen a lot in camp. Weber said “It’s always tough not to be in the lineup. From a personal standpoint I tried to compete I tried to stay consistent and do the things we need to do to win but I still need to be better. We all need to be a better because if each guy was just a little bit better we’d be in the playoffs.”

Weber has also turned into a good vocal leader for this team. One thing he didn’t like was not making the playoffs last year “The first word that comes to mind is disappointing. This is two years now that we’ve put ourselves in this situation. From a team standpoint we had a lot of changes to make. As a team we needed to go in a different direction and really change the culture here.”

The changes have been made as starting last season Jordan Leopold Robyn Regehr and Andrej Sekera are gone. Coming in are Henrik Tallinder Jamie McBain and the two first round picks Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov. Chad Ruhwedel and Brayden McNabb are waiting in the wings in Rochester. Weber said “I’m not worried about our backend at all. We have Jhonas he’s a young guy and we still have Millsie and he’s still one of the best goalies in the league so when you have two goaltenders that can really be a difference on a nightly basis that’s huge for you so that gives your defense a lot of extra energy and a little more confidence. We have great young players on the backend. Mysie’s a great player Nabber plays a tough game Pisser’s a great young player too he’s really silky smooth and we have Rudy in Rochester so I think there’s a lot of positives on our backend so I don’t think that will take that long at all.”

Under the old core group it was obvious that the leadership was lacking. Jason Pominville was not a strong captain but Ruff didn’t want a strong captain that would stand up to him. With the season Drew Stafford had he really couldn’t say anything. You can even go back to Paul Gaustad who lost all credibility the night Milan Lucic cartwheeled Miller. The lack of leadership wasn’t lost on Weber. You can tell he’s ready to step up with Steve Ott and Thomas Vanek just from what he said to me last April “It speaks to everything. It speaks to how we treat each other in the room it speaks to how we need to treat each other in the room. Guys need to be held accountable and I think a lot of that has been lost here over the last couple of years. Everyone wants to win in this locker room and everyone comes here to win comes here to compete but it’s the consistency. Guys need to be consistent myself included. Everyone needs to be held accountable for when they’re not playing well. We’ve got a find a way as a team to boost each other up and to power through some struggles and that’s been our biggest downfall. We get lost in these ruts like quicksand and it just sucks us in we don’t have enough fight to fight out of it and that’s the culture I speak of. We need to find that battle that intensity to get ourselves out of it.”