DETROIT >> If Stephen Weiss had it all over to do again he would have come clean about how he felt to start the season.
Weiss began the season with a hernia and tried to play through it.
“Coming down for the first game of the year and thinking ‘How are you going to get through the game?’ is probably not the right way to start,” Weiss said Tuesday during the Wings’ locker room cleanout at Joe Louis Arena. “I have to be smarter. It’s not my first year, I’ve been around a bit and should be a little bit smarter and should have spoken up earlier and maybe some of this could have been avoided. But sometimes that’s not my style. I’ll tend to do that and it got me in some trouble this year. (This season was) a huge disappointment, but in saying that it kind of fuels the fire for this summer and next year.”
The hefty salary he signed in the offseason – a five-year deal worth $24.5 million – to be the Wings’ second-line center to replace Valtteri Filppula helped fuel the pressure of making an immediate impact.
Weiss, 31, managed to play just 26 games this season totaling two goals, two assists and a minus-4.
Filppula had a career-high 25 goals in his first season in Tampa Bay with 33 assists in 75 games.
“I’m not big on saying much about (injury) stuff and it got me into some trouble, there’s no doubt about it,” Weiss said. “I should have been smarter in taking care of it sooner and not played through it as much.
“I’ve done it in the past and been able to play through those types of things, but I’m not 23 and 24 years old anymore,” Weiss continued. “So that’s a bit of a wake-up call that you’re getting older and you’re going to have to be smarter with these types of things.”
Weiss had sports hernia surgery on Dec. 23 with the expectation that he would return to action following the Olympic break, but he wound up experiencing multiple setbacks.
He had a second procedure on April 21 to repair an issue with scar tissue.
“I think the first time was a complete repair,” Weiss said. “This time it wasn’t as much but still pretty sore. I feel pretty good right now. It’s just a matter of letting it heal properly and making sure that you do your rehab properly and get all of those muscles in there strong again and get ready to take the beating of training and getting back into camp.
“I’ve got that out of the way now and hopefully that’s the end of it,” Weiss said. “We’ll go through that in the next few weeks and obviously be in contact with the doctor and go through that protocol and then he wanted me to get back on the ice in about six weeks and see how it is.”
When training camp began, Weiss was slated to center another newcomer, Daniel Alfredsson, and Johan Franzen.
“We thought Stephen was going to be our second-line center, we needed more offense,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “Prior to last year he produced 48 points or more in five of seven years. It was a disappointing year.
“Mike Babcock demands our players play 200-foot hockey,” Holland continued. “It’s been a great formula for us. Mike had put responsibilities on him that he might have had those same responsibilities in Florida, but it was a new coach, new linemates, new environment. I think he struggled early and then had a bit of groin injury and then came back.”
Weiss, who had scored 20 or more goals four times in his last seven seasons in Florida, missed the final 26 games of the 2012-12 season with a wrist injury.
“It’s hard to know where he’s going to be in September,” Holland said. “A lot of where he’s going to be is going to be about … in the next month, is he going to be healthy? Was that small surgery that was performed last week or was that the answer to what ails him. Is he able to have a June, July and August where he’s able to hit the guy and come to camp healthy, fit and ready to go or are we going to wake up in early June and he’s where he was a month ago and we’re going to continue to be looking for answers as to why he isn’t getting healthy. I don’t have an answer for you. I thought he’d be healthy six weeks ago. So for me to stand here and say he’s going to be healthy in a month, he’s going to have a great summer, he’s going to have a great year, I don’t know that. We need him to get healthy before anything positive can happen. He’s not healthy.”
Weiss is confident he’ll be ready for the start of training camp.
“It’s been a big disappointment, but I don’t know how much I’d change other than being a little smarter in the summer and maybe a little smarter at the start of the season, not trying to play through these types of things as much as I did,” Weiss said. “Even though it was my first year and I wanted to do things the right way, maybe taking a little time off at the start of the season would have done me better than pushing through and trying to be a little bit of a hero that way. So I got myself into some trouble that could have been avoided by being a little bit smarter.”