After following up his career best season with his career worst in 2015-16, it became quite clear to many that Dennis Wideman would probably remain a Calgary Flame for 2016-17.
There’s the $5.25M cap hit, the no-move clause, the nonexistent trade market, the defensive brainfarts, the frequently taken and frequently wide shots, the baggage still remaining from one particular evening against the Nashville Predators, and so many other things that turned 50-point scorer Dennis Wideman into whipping boy. If you introduced someone to Calgary Flames hockey this year, they’d probably believe his first name was actually a particularly versatile swear word that starts with the letter “F”.
It wasn’t good, but it may not have been as bad as it seemed.
2016-17 season summary
With the realization that we would be stuck with him for just one more season, it was time to bite the bullet. Just 82 more games.
And goodness gracious, sometimes it was painful.
Great effort by Frolik on backcheck and what… what's going on Wideman? pic.twitter.com/VUNDlNhnOg
— AOL KEYWORD: Mike (@mikeFAIL) November 2, 2016
It got to a point where the badness was predictable.
As Wideman closes the gap he has a chance to obstruct the puck carrier: doesn’t.
I get taking the pass but he didn’t force the shot either. pic.twitter.com/ELU3Vd1KNK
— AOL KEYWORD: Mike (@mikeFAIL) December 7, 2016
A handy guide for understanding Dennis Wideman: pic.twitter.com/qRb3lPFTPs
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) December 24, 2016
Though, there were those magical moments…
Nonchalant about it, eh Dennis?
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) January 1, 2017
… moments that brought us hope.
Dennis Earl Wideman Breakaway Goal: Beauty Can Exist In The Darkest Of Seasons – An Odyssey Of Emotions pic.twitter.com/0htj1d0KCD
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) April 7, 2017
But there were fewer of those and more of the former, most particularly during that particularly painful stretch of the season when the Flames lost a bunch of games and faced 4-0 deficits every time. As a result, the team decided to move on in an unspoken way. When they traded for Michael Stone, a defender who wasn’t much of an upgrade (if that), it signalled the end of Wideman. Since the trade (Feb. 20), Wideman only played five more games. Three of them were because Stone was injured and the other two was because the team already clinched a playoff spot.
Compared to last season
Surprisingly, Wideman was better than last season in terms of possession.
It’s not just CF% where he made a massive jump. Let’s peek at some other stats:
Those are some manageable stats. Over the 57 games he played, Wideman wasn’t as bad as he seemed, and was considerably better than last year. Of course, his real GF% falling apart (42.65% raw, -4.26% rel) doomed him to the press box, but overall, he was more serviceable than people give him credit for.
It may look as though he has hit a second wind, and with a bit of luck, could potentially be something again, but a lot of this is circumstantial. This year, he had T.J. Brodie as a defence partner, a far cry from possession black hole Kris Russell, and he had Glen Gulutzan as a coach, also a far cry from possession black hole Bob Hartley.
Most common teammates
The WOWY chart backs up that thinking.
With the possible exceptions of Deryk Engelland and Matt Stajan – and even then it’s suspect – there were no teammates that actually benefited from Wideman’s presence. The green dot, representing his CF%, is nearly unanimously below the other dots, suggesting that Wideman is the passenger. He’s not necessarily a bad passenger, but he isn’t helping anyone.
Well, he has to deal with that thing. You’ll still be hearing about him for the next little while. I guess it still involves the team to some extent, so they truly aren’t rid of him either.
But for on ice stuff, this will be goodbye for Wideman. The Flames made that clear when they traded for Stone and healthy scratched Wideman for all but a few games, only dressing on emergency basis. From that point, both parties pretty much moved on. Wideman probably wouldn’t want to come back to a team that will ditch him in an instant. From the team’s perspective, re-signing him would probably cause a revolt (in addition to making zero sense).
We can’t definitively say whether or not this is the end of his career – that’s his choice – but given the off-ice situation, the rapidly declining play, his reputation around the league, and pretty much everything about this season, it’s hard to see Wideman playing for another team in 2017-18. Auf weidersehen (well I guess there’s still Europe – that’s German for “until we meet again,” Dennis).
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