THERE’S making contact with an official, and then there’s what Dennis Wideman did on Wednesday night.
The Calgary Flames defenseman has been handed an indefinite suspension after he cross-checked linesman Don Henderson from behind, crumpling Henderson to the ice near the Nashville Predators bench. The play occurred during the second period of the Predators’ 2-1 win, and Wideman wasn’t penalised. Henderson stayed in the game.
Moments before the incident, Wideman had been checked hard into the boards by the Predators’ Miikka Salomaki, seeming to hit his head. As Wideman skates toward the bench, he appears stunned.
WATCH WIDEMAN’S HIT ON HENDERSON IN THE VIDEO ABOVE
So, did Wideman get concussed? Was a brain injury the reason he couldn’t distinguish between the guy in the striped shirt and one of his opponents in the white sweaters? Maybe that will be his defence when he lands in the league office and tries to avoid a huge suspension (the minimum suspension is 20 games for hitting a referee with intent to injure).
It sure sounds better than the explanation Wideman offered after the game. He said his hit to Henderson was unintentional.
“I took a pretty hard hit down in the corner and had some pretty good pain in my shoulder and my neck and I was just trying to get off the ice,” Wideman said. “And I was kind of keeled over and at the last second, I looked up and I saw him and I couldn’t avoid it.”
At the next stoppage, Wideman skated over to where the officials were gathered and apologised.
“Throughout my career — and I’ve been around for a few years — I think I’ve treated every official with the utmost respect,” Wideman said, “and I would never intentionally try to hit a linesman or a ref or anything like that.”
Nate Scott at For The Win isn’t buying Wideman’s ‘lame excuse’
‘Wideman’s head was up, he saw Henderson, he raised his hands, and he hit’ writes Scott.
‘Wideman looks totally cognisant on the bench, and his lame excuse after the game makes it seem like he knew exactly what he did and is now trying to cover it up.
Allow me to make the most obvious statement of the young 2016: The NHL needs to come down on Wideman hard for this hit. According to the NHL rule book, deliberately striking an official carries a 20-game minimum suspension. That’s minimum. I wouldn’t be surprised to see 30 or even 40-plus here. This is bad for the sport, bad for its image, bad for its players, bad for its refs (obviously enough) and bad for the league.’
The ‘Twitterverse’ was quick to condemn Wideman: