BOSTON -- Former Bruins and current Capitals Mike Knuble and Dennis Wideman are excited to be playing their former team in the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals. But both are approaching this series with different types of motivation and memories of their time in Boston.
After a 50-point season in the 2008-09 with the Bruins, Wideman struggled early in 2009-10 and was frequently booed by the fans at TD Garden. His confidence took a hit and so did his game, with too many turnovers and not enough of the solid two-way puck moving game he excelled at in 2008-09. He finished the regular season with just 30 points. While he had a strong playoff performance with 12 points in 13 games, it was clear that Wideman needed a change of scenery. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli dealt Wideman along with a first-round pick in 2010 to the Panthers in exchange for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell. Wideman would be dealt again to the Capitals late last season and he has found his game again this season, finishing with 46 points in 82 games.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Wideman said of playing his former team in the playoffs. “I still know a lot of the guys over there and yeah I’d love to beat them for sure. There’s still a few guys I talk to but when it comes playoff time, we’re not talking anymore and no more dinners.”
Wideman was asked about the way the fans turned on him and took the high road instead of airing his frustrations.
“Do I think I’ll be booed? Yeah of course but I’m the enemy now,” Wideman said. “I have no regrets from my time here. The first part of the last year didn’t go like I wanted, but I finished strong and I have no problem with the city of Boston or the Bruins.”
Knuble left Boston on much different terms than Wideman. As a key part of the Bruins’ offense on a line with Glen Murray and Joe Thornton, Knuble helped lead the Bruins to the No. 1 seed in the East. But Boston lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Montreal Canadiens, blowing a 3-1 series lead. The 2004-05 season was wiped out thanks to the lockout and Knuble, current Bruin Brian Rolston and other key free agents were not re-signed. But Knuble harbors no hard feelings.
“There’s an urgency I guess with me that you never know if it’s your last chance,” said Knuble who had just 18 points in 72 games and was a frequent healthy scratch down the stretch. “I know what it’s like to win and I want to taste that again.”
But Knuble said seeing Rolston and other familiar faces Thursday morning had him feeling a bit of déjà vu.
“It’s like a time warp for sure but even more so I think in the playoffs and now this season with ‘Rolli’ here, it’s crazy!” Knuble said with a big smile. “It brings back lots of great memories. I was out in the hall and I saw Rob Zamuner who is a NHLPA division rep, I saw (Bruins trainers) Johnny Whitesides and Donny Del Negro and I was like ‘Hey all we need is ‘Jumbo Joe’ and we can get the band back together! But it’s great and it should make for a fun series. I just want to win because I don’t have much time left not because I have animosity here.”