A team source confirmed that Capitals’ defenseman Dennis Wideman is in the hospital with a leg hematoma and will be sidelined indefinitely after being hit by the Carolina Hurricanes’ Tuomo Ruutu on Tuesday. Wideman has compartment syndrome, according to the source, but muscle damage to his leg appears limited. The nature of the injury was first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
A hematoma occurs when blood leaks from a broken blood vessel, artery or capillary into tissue where it doesn’t belong, such as a muscle. It can result in compartment syndrome, which involves increased pressure in a muscle compartment that can lead to permanent muscle or nerve damage.
Wideman had blood drained from his leg to relieve pressure and, according to veteran winger Mike Knuble, the defenseman has been sending teammates pictures the injured leg.
“He’s been firing off some pictures, too, and they’re pretty graphic,” Knuble said. “It’s pretty grotesque how Dennis is opened up right now. I think he’s pretty much high all the time to deal with the pain but when you see some pictures, it’s pretty amazing what’s happening to him.”
For more on compartment syndrome, you can check out Jason Reid’s story on former Redskin Jason Taylor’s emergency surgery in 2008, a career-saving procedure to alleviate pressure in his calf.
The news largely overshadowed Washington’s 4-3 overtime win over the Blue Jackets, on a goal by Jason Chimera, to clinch their third straight 100-point season.
Knuble said that Wideman could miss two weeks but that it may be more. It’s an unfortunate turn of events for the Capitals, who when all are healthy would have nine defensemen on their NHL roster but were knocked down to five when John Erskine left Thursday’s win.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said Erskine is day-to-day and left the game for precautionary reasons, adding that the defenseman did not injure his hand in a first-period fight with Jared Boll.
“Just seemed like last week we were getting guys back, got Jason [Arnott], got Alex [Ovechkin], a couple other guys that are nursing stuff here and there, and now they seem to be dropping,” Knuble said. “John, I’m sure he’ll be back, but all of a sudden you were pretty deep, pretty comfortable and now you’re searching for guys that can play.”
While the Capitals may be looking for options on defense, particularly if Erskine misses any time, Boudreau refuses to use the injures as an excuse of any kind for his team with just four games remaining in the regular season.
“It happens to everybody,” Boudreau said. “Everybody’s got injuries. I’ve been on a lot of winning teams and they’ve had to fight with more guys being out than we have.”
Jason Arnott echoed his coach’s sentiment.
“That’s part of the game. You’re going to lose guys with injuries and you hope and cross your fingers that they’ll come back real quick,” Arnott said. “It just means other guys have got to step up, especially on the back end. Younger guys have got to play a bigger role and play like they’ve been in the league and just keep it simple if we have to. If we have to change our game a little bit, we have to do that. Hopefully they recover and get back soon and we can have them in the lineup.”