The National Hockey League suspended Dennis Wideman for 20 games without pay yesterday for his alleged hit on linesman Don Henderson in a game against the Nashville Predators on January 27th, 2016. At first glance, it looks very bad but, you don’t make a decision on your first glance or the hit alone. Watch what happened before and after the play to make a sound decision on if Dennis Wideman should’ve been suspended.
Here’s the play in question:
Gotta See It: Wideman plows into referee after scary hit
If you haven’t seen the play, your first impression could easily be shock and thoughts of it being a dirty hit but you may also think why would he just hit a linesman? Now watch the replay or watch it again.
On the replay:
Nashville RW, #20 Miikka Salomaki checks Dennis Wideman, spinning him into the boards and Wideman’s head hits the glass. Wideman falls to one knee then gets up, puts his left hand to his head then starts heading for the bench. He calls for a change raising his stick. Don Henderson, the linesman, is skating backwards following the play on the ice. Wideman has his head down and sees the linesman at the last second, tries to veer to his right and puts up his hands to defend himself, collides with Henderson and keeps going to the bench.
You know he’s trying to avoid the hit because he starts to stop and tries to move out of the way but it’s too late. He also puts his hands up which is a natural reaction to being surprised when something or someone is coming at you. Also, Wideman never looks back. He just keeps going to the bench, sits down and hangs his head.
If he meant to hit the linesman because he was angry about a call, he would have hit him harder and talked some trash to him after the hit. He doesn’t do that. He goes to the bench and it’s obvious he doesn’t feel right. Also, if he was in his right mind, he would’ve hit or defended the Nashville player coming at him with the puck right after he collided with Henderson.
Here’s the transcribed call from the game’s announcers:
“…and then…linesman down at center ice. There was a collision there between one of the Flames…and Don Henderson is down, getting slowly back up…to his feet so…looks like he is going to be okay. Dennis Wideman looks a little shaken up as well, Kelly.”
“Yeah, he wo…yeah, Salomaki and then he is banged up and he’s going to try to make his way to the bench and there’s the collision with Don Henderson. He doesn’t even see the…uh…linesman.
I think Peter Laviolette is calling for a call. He’s talking to…the linesman…right now. No.”
“So Wideman was clearly woozy after that hit in the corner.”
“Yes he was. Absolutely!”
Now, the NHL is saying he violated Rule 40.2 – Physical Abuse of Officials. Here’s how the Rule reads from the NHL Rulebook.
The key word is “deliberately” which means he intended to hit the linesman. If he didn’t know the linesman was coming and accidentally collided with him, then it wasn’t deliberate.
We can say it was wrong and that the NHL has to protect their officials but none of those reasons make it deliberate and they can’t prove it was deliberate. Wideman’s statement after the game said he didn’t see him and he apologized to him after the hit.
The National Hockey League is making an example out of Dennis Wideman to protect their officials but they’re not even reading their rules correctly, rules written by lawyers and agreed upon by both the league and the player’s association.
This isn’t something that happened on a playground with the NHL being the biggest kid there and punishing Mr. Wideman for hitting their little brother too hard in a game. They really showed him. Dennis Wideman will never accidentally hit an official again. Wait. How can he know he’ll never do anything accidentally again? It’s an accident!
Is that how it works in the NHL? They apparently think so. The NHLPA doesn’t agree and has filed an appeal on Dennis Wideman’s behalf. The first stage of the appeal process is commissioner Gary Bettman. He will look at the play and decide to to leave the suspension at 20 games, reduce it or overrule it to no suspension at all. If he leaves it at 20 games or reduces it, the appeal will go to an independent arbitrator. That will be interesting. It’d be a big surprise if the commissioner changes anything.
Bring The Clutter!!! Every Day In Every Way!!!
If you don’t know what that means, go HERE and find out!