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Stu Cowan: St. Louis roots run deep for Canadiens’ Chris Wideman

Attending to spend 4 days in his residence metropolis is one thing particular for Habs defenceman, together with getting experience to observe from his father.

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ST. LOUIS — It had been a very long time since Chris Wideman’s father drove him to a hockey observe.

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So Friday was a really special occasion for each father and son.

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“He stated to me: ‘That is so uncommon that you just’re driving me to an NHL observe as an alternative of a youth observe,’” Gary Wideman stated after watching his son practise with the Canadiens Friday on the Centene Neighborhood Ice Centre within the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights. “It was enjoyable and particular.”

Wideman grew up within the St. Louis suburb of Richmond Heights and the town remains to be residence to him. His spouse, Caroline, and their son, Henry, reside in St. Louis so this street journey provides Wideman an opportunity to spend time with them and sleep in his personal mattress.

The Canadiens flew to St. Louis after Thursday evening’s 3-2 win over the Sabres in Buffalo and can play the Blues Saturday evening. The Canadiens will take pleasure in a day without work Sunday in St. Louis and practise Monday morning on the Centene Neighborhood Ice Centre earlier than flying to Minnesota, the place they are going to play the Wild Tuesday evening.

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A staff spending 4 days in a single street metropolis is sort of remarkable within the NHL.

“Actually, I assumed the blokes have been messing with me after I noticed the schedule,” Wideman stated after observe Friday whereas sporting a St. Louis Cardinals ball cap. “Break day and a pair days right here. Tremendous grateful for it. I used to be telling the blokes it’s most likely top-of-the-line cities on the earth that you might spend 4 days, so take pleasure in it.”

Wideman definitely will.

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His spouse owns two hair salons and son Henry will flip 1 on Dec. 14, so Caroline is a busy girl, however she’s surrounded by family and friends members in St. Louis to assist her out. Wideman admits it has been troublesome for him residing alone in Montreal.

“Simply the flexibility to come back residence and spend time with your loved ones and simply get away from hockey and let your thoughts free a little bit bit … I don’t have that proper now and it’s been a battle,” he stated.

So the welcome he acquired after arriving at his St. Louis residence following the flight from Buffalo Thursday evening was extra-special.

“Spouse’s excited,” he stated. “Canine’s actually excited. Bought residence final evening at about 1:30 and (Shooter, a 90-pound golden doodle) was super-excited. It’s at all times enjoyable to be residence.”

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After observe Friday, Wideman was heading again residence along with his father for a 3 p.m. appointment with a photographer to take Christmas card pictures, adopted by a household dinner.

“It is going to be a pleasant evening tonight after which wanting ahead to the sport tomorrow,” he stated. “Going to have loads of household and buddies (about 50 folks) there and it will likely be a particular evening. It’s at all times particular enjoying right here. It’s an opportunity for me to point out my appreciation for everyone that sacrificed for me to be the place I’m at present.”

Wideman’s father by no means performed hockey. He was some extent guard in basketball at Southwest Excessive College in St. Louis and later at Central Methodist College, however he and his spouse, Julie, had season tickets for the Blues and would deliver Chris, now 32, and his youthful brother, Alex, to video games. Alex, now 30, by no means made it to the NHL however remains to be enjoying within the ECHL for the Indy Gasoline.

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“We knew everybody round our seats and two months after Chris was born we began bringing him to video games,” Wideman’s father recalled. “Everyone needed to carry him. He grew up watching hockey from the minute he was born.”

Wideman began enjoying hockey when he was 4, joined the Triple-A Blues program at age 11 and likewise performed for the Chaminade School Preparatory College staff. There was no summer time ice obtainable in St. Louis again then, so Wideman performed soccer, basketball and baseball after hockey season ended and he’s nonetheless an enormous Cardinals fan. He was in a position to earn a hockey scholarship to Miami College (Ohio) and as a freshman in 2008-09 had 26 assists in 39 video games as Miami superior to the NCAA nationwide championship sport earlier than shedding 4-3 to Boston College in extra time.

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Wideman’s identify is certainly one of 26 on two plaques on a wall on the Centene Neighborhood Ice Centre, itemizing gamers from St. Louis who’ve made it to the NHL. Wideman by no means thought he’d make it and didn’t even watch the 2009 NHL draft when the Ottawa Senators chosen him within the fourth spherical (one centesimal total).

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“My dad and mom didn’t even suppose I’d get picked,” Wideman recalled with a chuckle. “I known as my dad to inform him I simply received drafted and he stated: ‘Bull—-.”

Requested when he realized the NHL may be a risk, Wideman stated: “After I was 25 and performed my first sport, in order for you me to be sincere with you. I nonetheless pinch myself day-after-day.”

Wideman should have been pinching himself actually onerous on that automotive experience to observe Friday along with his dad.

“It’s at all times particular to get to see him,” Wideman’s father stated. “And the nicest half is I don’t need to get on an airplane this time.”

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