MONTREAL — One of the summer activities Chris Wideman likes to take part the most is to put on his skates for his hockey school, the Wideman Brothers Hockey School.
Led mainly by his younger brother, Alex, who has appearances in the USHL, ECHL, AHL and three European leagues on his resume, the five-day camp ends Friday at the Brentwood Ice Rink in St. Louis, their hometown. .
This is the fifth summer the Widemans have teamed up to educate kids ages 9-14 on the art of puck handling, shooting, passing and puck protection through two-hour sessions per day.
The Canadiens defenseman, who agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension on June 6, is eager to help Alex out every year.
“It’s very special for me because he’s really passionate about the sport. He’s very talented and technically adept, and watching him interact with the kids and seeing how much youngsters gravitate around him, it seems like he’s really the star,” Wideman described praisingly. It’s special to be able to come and support him and have fun. I have a lot of fun watching it and watching the kids. We see them coming back year after year, getting really better and being excited to be with us. It really is one of the most fun weeks of the summer. »
The veteran quarterback says developmental experiences like this weren’t readily available when he was still learning the basics of hockey, so he’s proud to lend a hand and teach the next.
Ironically, it was at the Brentwood Ice Rink that the Widemans learned to skate and started playing.
“It’s an opportunity for my brother and I to give back to the community, get on the ice and work with young people. Growing up in St. Louis, he didn’t have many opportunities to take part in hockey camps. There wasn’t much in town. Today, there are several options in St. Louis, and it makes us very happy to see the same people every summer, mentioned Wideman. It brings back great memories to come back to this arena, too. It’s not a place where you could usually skate once you turned pro. »
Although Wideman was not a regular at hockey schools, he still benefited from the teaching of quality coaches, eventually allowing him to realize his dream of playing in the NHL.
That’s why the former Blues AAA of St-Louis and Chaminade College is enthusiastic about the idea of sharing his knowledge as much as possible with the youngest.
“As a child, I was extremely lucky to have former NHL players like Basil McRae, Rob Ramage, Jeff Brown and Mike Zuke to guide me in minor hockey. Several guys in my age group eventually played in the OHL or NCAA, and a few even played in the NHL, Wideman explained. Minor hockey in St. Louis has grown and grown exponentially since my time. We were lucky to have excellent coaches; many former Blues who stayed in St. Louis and ended up getting involved in the program. »
Five Blues AAA alumni were actually first-round picks in the 2016 NHL Draft: Matthew Tkachuk, Clayton Keller, Logan Brown, Luke Kunin and Trent Frederic.
Wideman also pointed out that Pat Maroon of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators also played junior hockey in St. Louis.
“You see more and more local guys playing at the professional level. It’s a very special group and I’m very proud to be part of it,” said Wideman. It’s nice to be connected to the St. Louis minor hockey community because I owe them everything I have today. She gave me everything I needed to grow into an NHL player. »
Well, it remains to be seen if he will have a few sticks left after the end of the camp…
“The kids are hilarious. Every day they want sticks and everything,” Wideman said with a laugh. « I said to them, ‘If I give you all my sticks, what am I going to use?’ We laugh about it. »