Defenseman Dennis Wideman had a career year on the Calgary Flames blue line this season and was a big reason why the Flames qualified for the playoffs according to Bob Hartley.
Wideman set career best in goals (15) and assists (41) and carried a plus rating (plus-6) for the first time in three seasons.
He kicked it up a notch in the playoffs registering seven assists while averaging 26:29 in time on ice in 11 games.
“Without taking any credit away from any of our other players because they all deserve tons of credit, I don’t think that we would’ve made the playoffs with the Dennis Wideman from last year,” Hartley told The FAN 960 in Calgary. “(Wideman) was unbelievable. His fitness level was great. His leadership was tremendous. He was helping young players on our team and his play on the ice, I think it showed.”
The 32-year-old went from being a healthy scratch early in the season to being one of the most relied on defensemen in Calgary.
“Obviously there was a major turning point in Dennis’ play and Dennis’ attitude and Dennis the way that he approached the game,” Hartley said. “I’ve said it a few times this year, it’s pretty rare, it’s probably kind of an NHL record that a veteran gets scratched on Game 2 and by trading deadline he has an assistant captain letter on his jersey.
“That’s how much he changed, that’s how much he helped us.”
When captain Mark Giordano went down in February is when Hartley really felt Wideman’s presence.
“We turned basically to four defensemen to carry the load for the last two months of the season and (Wideman) was very instrumental in our success,” he said.
With two years remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $5.25 million, Wideman could prove to be a good deal if he can remain among the club’s top four blue liners rather than a healthy scratch moving forward.