Lunch at Schneithorst’s |


MONTREAL — Chris Wideman wasn’t at the Bell Center when the Ottawa Senators made him their fourth-round pick (100th overall) in 2009.

After consulting with his parents, Gary and Julie, about the trip, it was decided that he would watch the events unfold from his hometown of St. Louis.

Wideman was in his second year of Draft eligibility and didn’t make Central Recruiting’s final rankings for North American skaters, so staying in Missouri seemed like the right move.

“My parents were under the idea that it was better not to go and get drafted than to go and not get drafted. I was one of those who wasn’t too sure what was going to happen,” said Wideman, who had had a great rookie season with the University of Miami before the event. « I had spoken to a few teams and there was a chance that I would be drafted, but no one was telling me ‘You have to be there because your name will be called. Knowing all this information, I believe we made the right decision. »

Video: The first season of Chris Wideman with the Habs

While the veteran defender admits he would have « loved to be there », in person, how he finally learned of his selection « about an hour and a half after it happened » is more than memorable.

It’s also a great lesson for draft-eligible players not traveling to Montreal this week…

« I was at a friend’s house the night before and lost track of time a bit, and my phone wasn’t charged. The next day, I went to lunch with some friends at a restaurant in our neighborhood called Schneithorst’s Restaurant & Bar, and the NHL Draft was playing on TV. I was like, « I should probably turn my phone on, just in case, kind of like a half-joke, so I gave the waitress my phone and she plugged it in. Maybe 20 or 30 minutes more later I asked if I could get my phone back and I had all these missed calls, voicemails and texts,’” the 32-year-old recalled with a laugh. « I started reading them and said to my friends, ‘I think I just got drafted into the NHL. We went to see it on TV, and of course the fourth round was over, but they were showing the picks and I saw my name. We have gone mad. »

Canadiens defenseman recalls ‘the late Bryan Murray on my voicemail asking me more than once where I was and if he had the right phone number’, former Senators general manager wishing to welcome him .

Through the celebrations, however, Wideman was in shock at being chosen.

“Getting drafted in my second year of eligibility was a surprise. I had a good year at school, but that’s not very common. I feel like now there are more players coming out of college, but back then there were a lot more European players, a lot more major junior players, so just to be chosen and recognized, I was very proud,” said Wideman. It kind of gave me that goal, “Okay, one day I want to be an Ottawa Senator,” and getting there has been one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. »

Wideman didn’t know anything about the team and didn’t know much about the city when he was drafted, except that players like Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza were the stars in town.

Then, he had a little fun at the expense of a current teammate…

« I know I was definitely picked in the round before Mike Hoffman that year, which is pretty good. Someone in the Senators recruiting department did well to pick me before him,” Wideman joked. “I was their man. They got me and they were like, « Well, I guess we’ll take Hoffman too. » »

Today, that the place where his draft took place is now his home is important to Wideman.

He enjoys all aspects of the amphitheater.

“The older I get and the longer my career goes on, there are all these little things that are kind of intertwined. When you step back and I think about it, a lot of things happen for a reason, and I’m a big believer in that,” Wideman said. “Any night at the Bell Centre, whether it’s a Canadiens game, an NHL Draft or a concert, it’s a special night. It’s an amazing place, and I’m very lucky to be able to play home games there. »

As for his draft history, he wouldn’t change a thing.

 » All’s well That ends well. The story and everything that happened is just perfect for my personality,” concluded Wideman, who has 245 games of NHL experience with Ottawa, Edmonton, Florida and Montreal. “I’m just as happy as can be and grateful to have this opportunity. »


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