Calgary Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman could be in some scalding hot water after a collision with a linesman in last night’s game against Nashville. The big D man took a solid, clean hit down in his own zone and was rattled enough that he decided to go right to his bench. Unfortunately, linesman Don Henderson was the last thing standing is his way. Wideman laid the official out with a cross check to the back before stepping over him and taking a seat. He did go over and apologize for the incident on the next tv timeout.
Wideman has since made a statement saying he didn’t see the linesman until the last second and couldn’t avoid the hit.
There are a few things to consider here. 1)Was he concussed from the original hit in the corner? 2) Did he see the linesman soon enough to avoid the hit? 3)Was the hit necessary?
1)After being hit, Wideman does appear to take a rather dramatic first few steps. I think they are just that. Drama. He may have been shaken a little, but he seemed perfectly able to skate. The tell tale sign for me is the fact that half way to the bench, he smashes his stick on the ice with one hand. He looks fine at that point, just irritated.
2)I know it does look like he should have seen Henderson, but I think all he’s thinking about is how he just got embarrassed. Also, it appears as though in the final few seconds of the approach, he’s staring toward the Nashville bench. I could accept that he didn’t see the linesman, or at least didn’t see enough to recognize it was a linesman.
3)The biggest problem I have with this is that he thrusts upward with a cross check. No matter who this is, that’s an intentional act designed to inflict something. Even if he didn’t know who it was, that also means he had no idea who he was hitting or where he was going to hit on this person. If it had been a shorter Nashville player he would have caught him in the jaw. Is that any worse or better than nailing a linesman in the back? Wideman had no reason to believe he was about to be hit by whoever that was. He was at the bench, where there’s always s lot of players from both teams going by. He didn’t have the puck. In my opinion this was a lash out in frustration at the first person he saw.
The second sign of intent is that he just causally went to the bench afterwards. If it was an unavoidable collision, yet he had just enough time to get his stick up and “protect” himself with a forward lunge into Henderson, you’d think he may take a look behind him just to see what had happened, or even just to see who had hit him. The fact that he took an aggressive lunge to increase impact and showed no immediate concern or reaction shows a complete disregard by Wideman as far as controlling his actions and doing what would be reasonable.
According to the rules, there are degrees for suspension length as far as abuse of official. 20 games is the highest category, for intentional act with intent to injure. 10 games is for an intentional act without intent to injure. I don’t think Wideman sought out to injure anyone. I think it was reactionary. But I also think that any reasonable person would expect his choice of action to cause an injury, and that’s just as bad.
I’d give him 20 games for his wrecklessness.