Dennis Wideman hadn’t been able to skate all out at Kettler Capitals Iceplex since late March, but on Friday morning, as the Capitals defenseman participated in an informal workout, it appeared as though he had never been sidelined at the end of last season.
“I’m 100 percent as far as skating and everything goes. I’m 100 percent,” Wideman said. “There’s still a little bit to catch up on, in just getting the response that you’d like to see out of your leg but I’m pretty close. I’m able to play and everything — I’m just pretty close to exactly where I’d want to be at this time.”
On Mar. 29 against Carolina, Wideman was hit knee-to-thigh by Tuomo Ruutu, causing the hematoma and compartment syndrome in his left leg. Although Wideman was able to start skating again before the Capitals’ season ended in the second-round sweep to Tampa Bay, he admitted he likely wasn’t close to a return to game action at that point.
“Looking back, I think they made the right choice,” Wideman said of the team’s decision to not rush his recovery. “I think I was quite a bit farther away than what you like to think, but when you get put in that situation you just want to play, whether you’re healthy enough or not.”
Despite how serious the hematoma was — Wideman showed reporters the scar from surgery that runs nearly the length of his thigh — he was able to train on a relatively normal schedule during the offseason.
“I took a little extra time off to get the full range of motion back at the beginning of the summer, and then it was just from a strength standpoint,” Wideman said. “I was starting way lower than I was used to, so it took extra work and extra time to get the strength part where it needed to be, and then I was able to start cardio later on in the summer.”
Now that he’s back in Washington, Wideman is anxious for the regular season to start and said he isn’t worried about any future problems with his leg.
“The only way it would reoccur is if I got hit exactly the same as I got hit before,” Wideman explained. “As far as I know, there’s no chance of re-injuring it.”