BUFFALO – Just 33 days after suffering a heart attack, veteran play-by-play man Pete Weber is calling games again. Incredibly, the Nashville Predators’ 4-1 win Tuesday inside the First Niagara Center was the former Sabres broadcaster’s seventh contest back.
Sitting in his booth about two hours before faceoff, the affable Weber, a popular Buffalo sports voice in the 1980s and 1990s, recalled the scary day.
“Right people, right time and right location,” said Weber, whose heart muscle wasn’t damaged.
Weber woke up in his St. Paul hotel Feb. 6 feeling dehydrated. Considering the room was 85 degrees, 100 degrees warmer than outdoors, he didn’t think much of it. But later in the morning, before a scheduled broadcast meeting, Weber told the crew he felt tingling in his jaw.
Weber took an aspirin and went to the rink to see the Predators’ and Minnesota Wild’s training staffs.
“A half an hour I was on the operating table,” he said.
Weber had an angioplasty and three stents inserted in an artery.
“I was never in any pain, which in a way is kind of scary because I could’ve let things pass had it not been for (the tingling),” Weber said.
Weber was discharged the next day. If the NHL hadn’t been on its Olympic break, doctors told Weber he could’ve called games the next week.
With time off, Weber had more stents inserted in another artery in Nashville.
The outpouring of support, Weber said, has been amazing. One photo of Weber in his hospital bed holding a stuffed frog and an “It’s a girl” balloon – gifts from two beat writers – got a lot of play on Twitter.
Weber said a friend from California asked what he named her.
In his second Buffalo appearance Thursday, winger Chris Stewart wowed interim coach Ted Nolan, adding some much-needed size and grit to the Sabres.
But the 6-foot-2, 231-pound Stewart collided with Tampa Bay goalie Anders Lindback late in the Sabres’ 3-1 win, injuring his right ankle.
The 26-year-old’s season is likely over, Nolan said.
“Stewart doesn’t look good right now,” he said. “There’s only five weeks left in the year. I think his injury is four or five weeks. I’m quite sure we probably won’t see him the rest of the year.”
Stewart’s style wore off on teammates.
“You like big, aggressive guys,” Nolan said. “You’d even see Marcus Foligno’s game lifting up that game playing with him. Sometimes you learn through coaching. But sometimes you learn through peers. What he brought to our team was everything we were looking for.”
The Sabres acquired Stewart from St. Louis in the Ryan Miller-Steve Ott trade Feb. 28.
Nolan, meanwhile, said his new contract could be done before the end of the season.
“Hopefully, it’ll be ironed out real soon,” he said.
Considering he’s an unrestricted free agent following the season and a proven defenseman, Henrik Tallinder “was a little bit surprised” the Sabres kept him past last week’s NHL trade deadline.
The 35-year-old doesn’t mind staying put, though.
“For me, it was either or,” Tallinder said. “Yeah, I wanted to go play in the playoffs. That’s for sure.”
The day wasn’t easy for Tallinder.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen to you,” he said. “So, yeah, I was antsy. I was on edge just sitting there, waiting for a call. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Notes: Sabres winger Drew Stafford played his 500th NHL game Tuesday. Forward Matt Ellis played his 300th game. … Defenseman Alexander Sulzer (lower body) skated Tuesday morning and could play later this week. “It’s not as long as we expected,” Nolan said. … Nolan said he had never seen anything like Dallas’ Rich Peverley collapsing on the Stars bench Wednesday. “Your heart just sinks when you hear things like that,” he said. Peverley is still hospitalized.