With the National Hockey League aiming to return to the ice in mid-January, there are still a lot of players needing a new contract.
Winnipeg’s Dale Weise is still looking for a team. He’s played for five different NHL clubs over his 10-year career, but finding a new deal during the pandemic has proven to be a difficult challenge.
“It’s a tough time,” Weise said. “I had some interest when free agency opened, but I think teams were kinda gun shy on signing depth guys. They went after the big fish that they wanted and then there’s a lot of guys like myself that teams were waiting to see what’s going to happen.
“Teams are sitting there like — I don’t want to sign guys if we might not even play. I don’t think the owners want to spend the extra money just in case it comes down that route.
“I’m optimistic when we get a date, we’ll be back in action.”
Weise is coming off one of his most frustrating years as a pro. After spending the bulk of his last 10 years at the NHL level, Weise was forced to split last season between the Montreal Canadiens and the American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket.
He scored one goal and four assists in 23 games with the Habs, and another three goals and four assists in 27 games with the Rocket.
“A year or two before in Philly was probably my tougher years playing,” he said. “But last year, obviously I was shocked to get sent down to the minors out of training camp. I didn’t see that coming and then going down.
“I was in the NHL for 10 years and then you’re back to playing in the minors, and I was trying to work my way back, and was playing nine, 10 minutes a night in the American Hockey League. It was very, very tough.”
Weise is now 32, but retirement is still the furthest thing from his mind.
“I still enjoy playing,” said Weise. “I love being around the guys. I haven’t really thought it’s an end for me. I gave some consideration to going to Europe this year, but I just thought with the uncertainty in the world right now, I didn’t want to take myself, I didn’t want to take my family over there. I think I got a lot of good hockey left in me and I still enjoy it. So I’ll keep playing as long as I enjoy it.”
But even though he’s not considering calling it quits, it doesn’t mean the father of four is not planning for life after hockey.
“I know that, that comes to an end one day,” he said. “And I want to be in a situation where I can transition whenever I want.”
So Weise dove headfirst into the business world right at the start of the pandemic.
“Me and my wife opened a business in Montreal,” said Weise. “It’s a multi-facility. WowMoms World Brossard it’s called. We were planning to open that March 27, so it was crazy timing. Absolutely the worst possible time you could do it. But we were open for a couple months in the summer and managed to stay afloat.”
In the meantime, he’s also dabbling in real estate, currently building a six-plex in St. Boniface.
“The pandemic kinda gave me a lot of time to research, and take some classes, and stuff like that,” Weise said. “I got my hands full.”
He’s just hoping he’ll have hockey gloves on those hands again in the very near future.