Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman made headlines on Jan. 27 when he delivered a blindside check to linesman Don Henderson during his team’s 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators. It appeared as if the move was intentional, and the NHL deemed it egregious enough to warrant an indefinite suspension Thursday.
NBC Sports provided a look at the play:
Wideman wasn’t penalized during the game because it wasn’t clear at the time to the officials if he intentionally checked Henderson. Wideman himself had just taken a hit and was heading back toward the bench before he decked Henderson.
As can be seen in the video, the commentators questioned whether the move was on purpose, and many Predators reacted in a way that implied they thought it was.
ESPN.com discussed the possibility of a suspension after the hit: “If Wideman is determined to have hit Henderson intentionally, he will be subject to a suspension of no less than 20 games for deliberately attempting to injure an official, per the NHL rulebook.”
Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald passed along a quote from Wideman: “I was just trying to get off the ice. And, at the last second, I looked up and saw him.”
“It was completely unintentional, and I already apologized to him,” he added, per Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun.
It has been a disappointing season for the 21-24-3 Flames, and this is just the latest setback. Wideman has two goals and 17 assists on the season and is an important part of the team’s defense, which means others will have to shoulder the load until he returns if Calgary hopes to make a late charge in the postseason race.
Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie and Dougie Hamilton will likely be asked to play more minutes without Wideman in the rotation, and Kris Russell could play up a line to fill the void.