By Tim PanaccioCSNPhilly.com
OTTAWA -- Lets be perfectly candid.
No one could have possibly imagined that Dennis Wideman would be competing for Hardest Shot, let alone Skill Challenge Relay last spring.
Or that hed be the lone Washington Capitals representative at the All-Star Game.
Thats because a routine check from Tuomo Ruutu turned into the worst nightmare of Widemans life, leading to a hematoma and surgical complications last March that ended his season and threatened the use of his right leg.
The guy wasnt even sure hed ever skate properly again. And now hes part of tonights SuperSkills competition.
Obviously, time heals all wounds even surgical ones.
I obviously don't know what the partners are going to be or whatever, said the Caps' No. 1 defenseman. I obviously enjoyed playing with Z Zdeno Chara when I was there. In a game like this, it will probably be that much more it'll be fun to get back out there with him.
Hes shooting with Chara this evening. But hes not looking toward what the radar gun is going to say about the speed of his shot.
I'm just nervous, Wideman said. I hope I'm not the first one to shoot like 85. I'm going to put everything I have into it. If I get 90 I'll be happy.
Chara shot 105.9 once at this event.
It should be fun, Wideman said. Playing with Z, I was with Z for a few years there and I learned a lot from him. The way he approaches the game and his work ethic and stuff like that, it's hard not to have something like that rub off on you.
I think it would be good to get back out there and play with him.
He admits, theres a still a tiny part of him that longs for the city of Boston, where he once played.
I loved playing there; I loved the city and I still think about it the area I was living in in North End and stuff like that, Wideman said. It was great there: a great group of guys, a really close, tight-knit team.
It was exciting. I was excited to see them win last year and obviously I think Boston's a great place to play.
Wideman also said hes looking forward to chatting and playing with his favorite NHLer Pavel Datsyuk, who seems to be everybodys favorite player when you ask people who they want to meet, emulate or play with.
Datsyuk will compete with Wideman on the Skill Challenge Relay and the Hardest Shot, too. A SuperSkills daily double for Wideman.
He's awesome, Wideman said of Datsyuk. The stuff that he can do out there is amazing. You watch him play and I think just the subtleties of some of the stuff that he does his hands and he can find areas around players and the moves and stuff that he pulls out.
He can come out of the corner with three guys clean. It'll just be kind of exciting to be out there on the ice with him.
You cant check him, Dennis.
Well, I'm not a physical player, he replied. I don't know. It's kind of like an offensive-minded-more game, so hopefully there'll be some time to make some passes and get the pucks up to the forwards.
What kind of effect I'm going to have? I don't know. I'm just going to try to go out there, put in a little bit of effort and hopefully that's good.
Unlike baseball, nothing that happens here at an All-Star Game will impact on the championship in this case, the Stanley Cup Final. But
We want to win, Wideman said. I think we're going to try. I think anytime you're playing with Z, you're going to be going hard. He's pretty intense. I'm sure he'll be pushing us to try and get the win.
Looking at the teams and stuff like that, it's kind of like the local team. Obviously Ottawa's going to be cheering for Alfie's team, and they got some Swedes on there, and then everybody else is kind of on the other team. It should be fun.