What was Dennis Wideman thinking? Perhaps he was frustrated that the officials didn’t call a penalty when Nashville’s Miikka Salomaki hit him into the boards moments earlier. Maybe he was still shaking the cobwebs out as he skated toward the bench.
Whatever was going on, Wideman screwed up.
There’s no excuse, no possible justifiable explanation for crosschecking an official, as Wideman did to veteran linesman Don Henderson on Wednesday night:
Moments prior, Wideman was checked hard into the boards by Nashville’s Miikka Salomaki. Wideman got up slowly, heading directly to the bench – and directly into linesman Don Henderson.
“I was just trying to get off the ice. At the last second, I looked up and saw him,” Wideman said after the game. “I couldn’t avoid it. I didn’t know where to go or how to get out of the way of him.”
Based on the replays, it looked like Wideman did more than just try to avoid Henderson. He raised his stick and delivered a high, hard crosscheck to the unsuspecting official.
“Throughout my career I think I’ve treated every official with the utmost respect,” Wideman added. “I’d never try to intentionally hit a linesman or ref.”
I can confirm Wideman did apologize to linesman Don Henderson in the first TV timeout following his hit
— Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) January 28, 2016
Referees Tom Kowal and Trevor Hanson missed the hit, as they were focused on the play as Wideman headed off the ice. As a result, no penalty was handed out on the hit.
Henderson remained on the ice for a few moments before getting back to his feet and remaining in the game.
Wideman also stayed in the game. It may be the last game he plays for quite some time.
Rule 40 – Physical Abuse of Officials
Here’s an excerpt from the NHL rulebook:
40.1 Game Misconduct – Any player who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official, in any manner attempts to injure an official, physically demeans, or deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall receive a game misconduct penalty. In addition, the following (40.2, 40.3, 40.4) disciplinary penalties shall apply.
40.2 Automatic Suspension – Category I – Any player who deliberately strikes an official and causes injury or who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official with intent to injure, or who in any manner attempts to injure an official shall be automatically suspended for not less than twenty (20) games. (For the purpose of the rule, “intent to injure” shall mean any physical force which a player knew or should have known could reasonably be expected to cause injury.)
40.3 Automatic Suspension – Category II – Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner (excluding actions as set out in Category I), which physical force is applied without intent to injure, or who spits on an official, shall be automatically suspended for not less than ten (10) games.
The final decision is up to Hockey Operations — not the Department of Player Safety headed by Stephane Quintal. That means the decision falls to Colin Campbell, the league’s Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations.
That decision could leave Wideman on the sidelines for a significant amount of time. It should cost him the rest of the season.
(stick-tap to /r/hockey user LastOfSane for the clip)