Dennis Wideman is excited to suit up and play against his former Bruins team, but the excitement isnt about revenge or getting back at the boo-happy fans.
Instead its simply about getting back into the playoffs after missing out on last season with a leg injury that went wrong for the puck-moving defenseman. The hematoma in his leg kept him hospitalized and away from the action after hed been traded to the Caps, so hes looking at this years playoffs as the chance to finally up for Washington as a difference-maker.
It isnt about proving the Bruins wrong for trading him away in exchange for players in Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell that helped the Bruins win the Cup.
He understands thats a business and he turned in his first All-Star worthy season with 46 points as the main offensive defenseman for the Caps.
I dont know if Im motivated by proving anybody wrong. I was in a situation where they had a lot of defensemen and they needed a forward. I was the guy that went the other way. Thats the way I looked at it, said Wideman. When they lost Kessel to Toronto and they needed a top-end scorer.
Horton was the guy they went after and the guy they could give up was on defense. Its business. Thats the way it works. I dont sit there and say I cant believe they traded me because thats not how it is. Look around and watch the other sports. Thats just the way it works.
Its also not about gaining vengeance against a Boston fan base that turned Wideman into a Hal GillJoe Corvo-style whipping boy when the blueliner got off to a very slow start. It got pretty bad for Wideman once the Bs fans focused on each defensive zone misadventure, but he doesnt harbor any ill will towards Boston after two years away from the bad scene.
No. I didnt start off the year as well as I wanted to and the first half was a struggle, said Wideman. I was getting frustrated. Theyre knowledgeable hockey fans, so I assumed they werent too happy with the way I was playing.
They were just being Boston fans. They dont put up with that. Thats just the way it is.While Wideman wouldnt say that revenge was on his mind playing the Bruins this season, he did score a pair of goals in the four regular season matchups. But thats not the ultimate Wideman revenge: that would probably involve celebrating a Washington playoff series victory on the Boston ice that became his tormentor two years ago.
BOSTON – This is not where Al Horford thought he would be right now.
Back in May, the Atlanta Hawks had just been swept out of the playoffs by the soon-to-be NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Disappointed with the outcome obviously, Horford was a free agent-to-be who was confident that he would be back in Atlanta and the Hawks would retool by adding to their core group which he was a major part of, and they would be back to making another run at it this season.
First there was the draft night trade of point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers.
And during Horford's negotiations with the Hawks in July, they were also negotiating with Dwight Howard and ultimately signed the Atlanta native to a three-year, $70.5 million contract.
Before the Howard deal was complete, the Celtics had already made a strong impression on Horford during their presentation to him.
So the choice was pretty clear.
Return to Atlanta and potentially have a major logjam up front with himself, Howard and Paul Millsap, or join a Celtics team that’s on the rise where his five-tool skillset – passing, rebounding, defending, scoring and making those around him better – could be put to great use on a team that’s clearly on the rise.
Horford chose the latter, giving both himself and the Celtics exactly what they wanted – stability and a chance to win at the highest of levels.
The first shot to see how this basketball marriage looks on the floor will be tonight when the Celtics kick off the 2016-2017 season at the TD Garden against the Brooklyn Nets.
The preseason isn’t the best indicator of what’s on the horizon now that games count, but Horford’s presence was undeniable.
Boston’s starters which includes Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson, each finished with a positive, double-digit plus/minus in the preseason.
“He just makes the game so much easier for all of us,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He can do so many things out there at both ends of the floor. He’s going to be big for us this season.”
And his impact can be felt both on the floor and inside the locker room, similar to what he brought to the Atlanta Hawks.
“With the way that I go about it is, I’m trying to win,” Horford told CSNNE.com. “I’m gonna work, put in my work, try to help guys get better not only on the court but off the court as well. That’s how I carry myself.”
And it is that approach to the game that has made his transition to the Celtics a relatively seamless one.
Horford holds many fond memories of his time in Atlanta, a place that will always be near and dear to his heart.
But he’s a Celtic now, coming in with the same single-minded focus that drives this organization to continue pursuing the only thing that truly matters to them – an NBA title.
"Even though I’m leaving a lot behind, as a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
FOXBORO -- The Patriots will have a familiar face back on the practice field, it appears.
According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, running back Dion Lewis is expected to begin practicing this week. Lewis has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of the regular season.
Lewis tore his ACL in a Week 9 win over the Redskins last season, landing him on season-ending injured reserve. He was able to participate on a limited basis during OTAs but then experienced a setback that required surgery before the start of the season.
Once Lewis hits the practice field, the Patriots have a three-week window to place him on the active roster. The team currently has an open roster spot and could, in theory, activate him as early as this week.
When healthy last season, Lewis as a dynamic all-purpose back whose quickness allowed him to make defenders miss both in tight spaces between the tackles and in the open field as a receiver. The Patriots have used James White as their primary sub back in Lewis' absence, and he's on pace for a career year, with 27 receptions for 244 yards and three touchdowns.