The National Hockey League goes into its NHL All-Star break pondering the curious case of Dennis Wideman.
The Calgary Flames defenceman delivered a hard shot from behind to linesman Don Henderson during Wednesday night’s loss to the Nashville Predators.
You’ve seen the video. It was a weird, bizarre play that caught everyone off guard, including Henderson.
The question is, was it intentional or not? It sure looks like it was.
Groggy after taking a hard hit in the corner, Wideman, on his way back to the bench, gave Henderson a crosscheck at the Predators bench, sending him to the ice.
The debate began raging immediately among the attending media and dominated Calgary’s talk radio the next morning about whether he knew what he was doing and whether he’ll be suspended when the break ends.
Based on what’s written in the NHL rule books, he’s looking at 10 games minimum for applying physical force to an official without intent to injure. It could be 20+ if it was deemed that he tried intentionally to hurt Henderson.
Confirming NHL linesman Don Henderson was in hospital for precautionary reasons. Home now. NHL expected to decide on Wideman today.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 28, 2016
Wideman said it was unintentional.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been around for a few years and I’ve treated every official with the utmost respect,” he told reporters.
“I would never intentionally try to hit a linesman or a ref. It was completely unintentional and I already apologized to him.”
Clearly Wideman wasn’t thinking straight when he gave Henderson the shot. No player in his right mind would hit an official. It’s believed that Wideman did not go through concussion protocol after the contest, though it may have been a good idea.
“I had some pretty good pain in my shoulder and neck. I was just trying to get off the ice. I was kind of keeled over. At the last second, I looked up and saw (Henderson). I couldn’t avoid it. I went up to Donnie and apologized to him on the ice. I didn’t see him. I didn’t know where to go or how to get out of the way,” Wideman said.
A guy would have to have lost touch with his senses to hit an official on purpose. Wideman is in the fourth year of a five-year deal that is paying him $5.25 million this season.
Up until Wednesday night the only talk involving Wideman in Calgary was how they could unload his unseemly contract prior to the trade deadline. They’ve got to come up with some salary cap space soon to re-up Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, the team’s two offensive stars whose next contracts are going to be costly.
Now he’s given everyone something else to talk about for a few days.
When it’s all done, Flames fans can go back to discussing why the team that made the playoffs last season and appeared to be on the upswing is now 14th out of 15 in their conference at the break.