Glens Falls, NY – “I forget that I was that little kid, running around that rink asking for sticks, pucks, autographs – anything. I remember that if any player took the time of day to say hello, Hi, that meant the world to me.”
That’s Weller chatting with me about his pregame routine and why it’s going to be the same from the start of the season to the end of his final playing career.
“Any smile I can put on a kid’s face, me I’m warming up in their area, I have my spot downstairs, what kind of guy would I be If I wasn’t saying Hi or signing stuff, but I always think back to when I was that little kid, asking for autographs. I can remember when the Adirondack Red Wings players would come in and read to us for book club; it was something I never forgot, especially at Harrison Avenue school. So now, to be someone who can give back like that and be a face in the community, it means a lot”.
Heading into each hockey season since 2006-2007 at the professional level, Shawn Weller has never known if this was going to be his last professional season. However, as the Adirondack Thunder begin their seventh season as a franchise, one thing is for sure: this will be Shawn Weller’s last, at the age of 37.
Shawn Weller had a major decision to make this summer: to hang up the skates or to see if there was enough juice in the tank to do this at such a high level for one more year. When I sat down with Shawn back when the team announced that he was coming back in September as part of our Thunder Off-Season Interviews, he called the moment bittersweet.
“It is bittersweet. Going into every other season, I didn’t know if it was going to be my last. For the last few years, there and with the fact that I just turned 37 being in my hometown, I’m kind of running out of juice. But I have enough for one more year, and I’m excited to bring it to the Thunder fans”.
If there’s something that Weller could do and turn back on his career and change anything about living out his dream, the answer is nothing.
“You know there’s a lot of different hockey players who can’t end on their terms, wherever that may be. Injuries, for example. So for me to be healthy enough at the age of 37, and being able to call my shots, I’m honored that I get to make that decision.”
Shawn Weller got to live out his dream, and the dream isn’t dead yet. It’s the eye on the prize for the 37-year-old veteran, which is the Kelly Cup.
“I would love to win a championship in North America. Anytime you start a season, that’s the end goal. You want to win your last game of the year. Imagine I say it’s my final year, and we go out and win a Kelly Cup in my hometown, alongside these fans. It’d be pretty cool. You saw the way the arena was the last month of the season. If we get off to a better start this year, like we’re planning on doing as a unit, and carry that momentum into April, to cap it off with a parade down Glen Street would be pretty special.”
It’s very hard if you are a South Glens Falls resident to run into the Weller family. I remember earlier in the summer, I was able to have lunch with Shawn’s dad and mom at a local restaurant in town, and his dad said, “We’ll get him back. No need to worry.” Shawn said that being transparent with Head Coach Pete MacArthur was the best for both sides.
“When the end of the season meetings happened, I made it very clear to him that I wanted to come back and play hockey in my hometown for one more final season. So we just waited to see how things were going to shape out with the roster. I talked to my family, my fiancée, my parents. They love it to go across the bridge to watch their son play hockey. It’s pretty cool for them. So my final year, I’m doing it for friends and family as well. For one more year.”
When it comes to wearing the “C,” Weller said that’s not up to him.
“That’s up to Coach Mac. I know that I’m going to bring the same energy and leadership. Since I was young, I was a 23-year-old captain in South Carolina. I was a 26-year-old captain in Stockton. So I’ve had that role before, and I’m here for what the coaches want in my role.”
It was on January 12th, 2022, that the Adirondack acquired Shawn Weller via trade from the Kansas City Mavericks, and the then 35-year-old at the time, playing the last fourteen years not playing in his hometown, finally got the chance to do so. He still remembers that day of finally being able to live his dream, but he couldn’t help but forget one of his best friends who kept being like that little bug in his ear, saying, “When are you going to play for the Thunder?”
Tragically, Shawn’s best friend, Logan Carpenter, that person who kept asking, passed away before he could see Weller play in a game in his home rink that counted.
“It started kind of a joke. Everyone always asked me when I was going to play for Thunder, and my buddy Logan Carpenter, who’s not with us anymore, passed away three years ago. But we all still think about him. He would’ve been excited to know that I get to see me play here. That’s when it all started, and it’s kind of funny how it worked out. It’s a full-circle moment.”
He was going back to that exact date of January 12th, 2022. Weller said that in the back of his mind, he knew that he wanted to wrap up his career here, and I phrased it in the interview when I sat down with him, putting a nice bow on it.
“In the back of my mind, yeah, I always thought if I did come back and play in the East Coast league, I was having a great time playing in Germany, obviously, but that all changed.”
That change that Shawn Weller is talking about is COVID-19, which impacted all of us in some way, shape, or form.
“I planned on retiring when I was 34 and saying I had a good run and that’s it, but a good buddy of mine, Willy, who I played in Germany with, I told him that when I got to Kansas City, it was going to be my last season, but being traded and being able to come home to Glens Falls, cool right? I learned how to skate at the Glens Falls Civic Center, and I learned how to play hockey right where I was born and raised.”
When it comes to what Shawn Weller is going to enjoy the most in his final year of professional hockey, the answer is simple but heartfelt for the veteran.
“Just enjoying the time around the guys, I think that’s the best part about being in a hockey locker room, being on a team, getting to go see a good group of guys each morning and being excited to go to the rink. I’ve always been a guy who shows up with a smile on my face and having a positive attitude. I don’t feel 37, but I might skate like I’m 37. I wish I could skate like I’m 25, but I still feel like I can bring that energy and charisma I did for every team I played for since I was 20.”