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What rift? Hartley says Wideman’s ‘been unbelievable’ since healthy scratch

Los Angeles Kings v Calgary Flames

Los Angeles Kings v Calgary Flames

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When Dennis Wideman was banished to the press box after struggling in Calgary’s season-opening loss to Vancouver, several pundits brought up his frayed relationship with head coach Bob Hartley.

From Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts:

When Calgary signed Dennis Wideman in 2012, one of the theories behind it was that Marc Savard, who shared the same agent, had an excellent experience with Bob Hartley in Atlanta. Good theory that didn’t work in practice. Hartley and Wideman haven’t mixed in southern Alberta.

GM Brad Treliving has denied that Wideman (who has a no-move clause) is available, but he’s the Flames highest-paid player and that number rises the next two years.

But since that healthy scratch, Wideman has been great for Calgary -- just ask Hartley.

“Wides has been unbelievable,” the head coach explained, per the Calgary Sun. “He’s playing great. He’s jumping in the play. He’s generating some good offence while playing good defense, and that’s what we need.”

Wideman’s numbers back up Hartley’s claims, especially over the last five games:

wideman numbers

Unsurprisingly, Calgary secured seven of a possible 10 points over that stretch.

Wideman’s almost always going to be a lightning rod for criticism, especially given his age (32 in March), cap hit ($5.25 million) and length of contract (expires in 2017). But he can also be a key cog for the Flames’ defense, which is starting to look like a pretty promising group given the stability of captain Mark Giordano and the steadily-improving T.J. Brodie, who earlier this week inked a five-year contract extension.