Prior to the NHL All-Star break, Dennis Wideman found himself in some hot water when he hospitalized a linesman with a cross-check to the back and was suspended indefinitely pending a hearing. On Wednesday, Wideman was given his punishment from the league – a 20-game ban. The suspension will cost him $564,516.13 in salary.
During the Flames’ final game before the break, Wideman took a hit in the corner from Nashville Predators forward Miikka Salomaki, and he appeared to a little woozy as he made his way back to the bench. Before he got there, though, Wideman checked linesman Don Henderson in the back, burying him to the ice. The play went unpenalized and both Wideman and Henderson stayed in the game, but the linesman was eventually taken to a hospital after the game due to neck pain and nausea.
There has been some debate over whether Wideman — a veteran player with a clean rap sheet — intentionally buried the linesman. Some have argued that that Salomaki’s hit may have left Wideman disoriented (or possibly concussed) and he may have been caught offguard and mistaken Henderson for an opposing player. Others, however, believe that the cross-check was retribution for Salomaki’s hit not being called for a penalty.
The league’s rulebook mandates that deliberate physical force applied on an official carries at least a 10 or 20-game suspension, depending on whether intent to injure plays a factor.