When the calendar hits July 1st, Dennis Wideman will officially be off the Calgary Flames’ books, and become a free agent.
It will signify a true end of an era in Calgary. Not an individualized era of Dennis Wideman, but it will signal a true end to the style and management of the late 2000’s-early 2010’s Flames.
Propelled by an unlikely but glorious trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004 and a division title the next season, the Flames slowly became organizationally stagnated in that they would continue to add older veterans over youth to the team to try and maintain those first couple years of success.
This lead to the Flames walking the line of mediocrity for close to a decade as a team that could either make the playoffs or finish just outside.
The Flames had at least 90 points in eight consecutive seasons, but again other than the team that went to the Finals, none of the other teams even won a playoff round. Only five of those eight years did the Flames even make the playoffs.
Coupled with some poor drafting and bad trades, the Flames were a franchise stuck with aging veterans on no trade clauses, playing a slow unexciting brand of hockey.
After the firing of Daryl Sutter as general manager, and the subsequent promotion of Jay Feaster, the Flames maintained their mediocrity for another couple of seasons before it became clear that changes would have to be made.
Slowly the Flames began removing aging players such as Alex Tanguay, Jarome Iginla, Mike Cammalleri, Cory Sarich, Jay Bouwmeester, Tim Jackman, and others.
While Dennis Wideman wasn’t around for a lot of the mediocre years, his contract is the last one that symbolized the Flames shelling out of money, term, and no movement clauses for a desperate attempt at maintaining a crumbling franchise.
So while a few names remain from some of those years (Mark Giordano, Mikael Backlund), they’re both long-term core pieces of this franchise. Dennis Wideman is not.
The youth have taken over Calgary, and it’s their team now. The table is set for this core to run and see just how far they can take the Flames organization. It is no longer a franchise with veterans just happy to be playing, it is a young team who has its sights set so much higher.
So when Dennis Wideman walks out the doors of the Saddledome for the final time, so too will the not-so-glory years of an organization that struggled to keep its head above water for many seasons. Gone will be the memories of mediocre veteran teams that had the players that could make noise, but never could when it came down to it.
The last pillar of this franchise’s turbulent past has fallen. The past is gone, the future is now for the Calgary Flames.