Last March, Dennis Wideman suffered acute compartment syndrome in his thigh further complicated by a rupture in the branch of his femoral artery. While the 28-year-old defenseman shrugs off the six surgeries he underwent and lengthy recovery process, it was an injury that Capitals team doctors described as career and limb threatening.
That Wideman was able to come back and play at a high level and earn his first ever trip to the NHL All-Star game in January, as though the injury never occurred, is nothing short of stunning.
That is why the Washington chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has nominated Wideman for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is presented to “the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”
“It was a pretty bad injury, but I don’t feel like it was that big of a deal, I guess probably mainly because it happened moreso at the end of the year,” Wideman said. “If that’s something that would happen during the year, in the middle of the year, I would have missed a lot more time than I did.”
Through 67 games this season, Wideman has 41 points (10 goals, 31 assists), just nine off his career high of 50, which he recorded in 2008-09 as a member of the Boston Bruins. He leads Washington in average time on ice per game with 23 minutes and 48 seconds.
Although Wideman downplays the injury, earlier this year Capitals team physician Ben Shaffer explained that there is no documented instance of a case like the blueliner’s in the NHL’s injury database, which dates back to 2006. You can check out the full story on Wideman’s recovery that ran ahead of the All Star game here.
“There was no data at all to go on in terms of a precedent of knowing whether he could get back to playing hockey,” Shaffer told the Post in January, “Playing in the NHL — whether the demands would outstrip his abilities after the injury.”