Dennis Wideman suspended 20 games for hit on linesman Don Henderson

Ari Yanover
February 03 2016 12:11PM

It's been a week since Dennis Wideman's bizarre, fateful collision with linesman Don Henderson. Or hit. Or crosscheck. Call it what you will, but back on Jan. 27, the Flames blueliner did something illegal to an official, and now, he's paying the price for it.

Wideman has been suspended 20 games for his actions. He will almost certainly appeal, but for now: that's 20 games gone, and $564,516.13 in salary lost.

This is a huge suspension, but it's not surprising that it ended up so big. This wasn't a player-on-player hit; this wasn't the NHLPA looking out for its own against another of its members. Wideman's hearing had a ton of people involved, from NHLPA representatives to the NHL Officials Association to representatives from the Flames organization (Brian Burke, Brad Treliving, and Craig Conroy) to Wideman and Henderson themselves.

Wideman may or may not have been dazed, out of it, concussed, what have you will on the play. There's likely no way we'll ever know for sure, but the player himself never admitted to it, neither in real time - he remained on the bench for the rest of the game - nor in his apology afterwards. So perhaps Wideman just made a really poor judgement call, and it's one that's costing him, big time.

You have to respect the officials, and actions like Wideman's - crosschecking a linesman from behind, sending him down to the ice and, ultimately, to the hospital - cannot be condoned in any way. Throw in the fact that there were two warring sides in this matter, and you were bound to get a big number no matter what.

What does this mean for the Flames?

Assuming the 20-game suspension holds up, Wideman won't be eligible to return to the lineup until March 14 against the St. Louis Blues. This is, of course, assuming he's still a Flame by then (which, in all likelihood, he will be: a suspension of this magnitude isn't exactly going to make it easier to trade him). In case he isn't, though, he'll have served 13 games of his suspension prior to the trade deadline.

So if Wideman can win an appeal and get his suspension knocked down to 12-15 games or so, that leaves a glimmer of hope, and would allow him to return later this month, or in early March as opposed to the middle of it.

But for the time being, unless the Flames can get a roster exemption from the NHL - and for a 20-game suspension, it's possible, although it doesn't exactly cripple the team, particularly if he wins an appeal - they'll be forced to essentially have a 22-man roster. 

The Flames already recalled Jakub Nakladal to deal with Wideman's absence, which gives them seven defencemen for the time being. They'll carry 13 forwards - so just one extra - rather than the standard 14.

Depending on any future trades, this could open up a spot for another Flames youngster. Kris Russell is an upcoming UFA, and it would be prudent to trade him; this would give the Flames room to bring up Brett Kulak or Tyler Wotherspoon, who Stockton Heat Head Coach Ryan Huska suggested could also be replacements.

Ultimately, it isn't ideal to lose any player for so long. With the Flames completely unable to use him on the ice, Wideman is dead weight. But Wideman was far from one of the team's better players to begin with, so there are silver linings to this entire situation. Nakladal will finally get his chance, and may even improve the backend; the same could be said for anyone else who may be able to get some NHL games in due to Wideman's suspension.

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Ari first fell in love with the Flames during the city-wide madness that was 2004. She enjoys thinking about the Flames, writing about the Flames, and dogs. You can find 140-character versions of her yelling at @thirtyfourseven.
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#51 #97Train
February 03 2016, 03:37PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

the symptoms you describe are exactly why i think Wideman didn't do it on purpose, and in fact may not have even been aware of the fact that he did it afterwards. explosion of lights in the head followed by blacking out or going to tunnel vision, accompanied by a screaming in the ears and sudden nausea... plus, when people are concussed or rocked, you often get a strange flight or fight symptom that leads to irrational thoughts fears and decisions. I think he was heading to the bench under these conditions, saw someone at the last second blocking his escape, and shoved hi instinctively. Like Rhett said, NOBODY is stupid enough to crosscheck a ref on purpose.

What about someone that has been a model citizen their whole life and then snap for one second? Should we let them away with what they did? He did it not with malice but he did it .Get over it already.He is guilty.

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#52 Johnny Goooooooaldreau
February 03 2016, 04:06PM
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54fighting wrote:

The CRA ruled that suspensions and fines can be deducted as a business expense. So he'll actually be getting a small refund next year, assuming he maxes his RRSPs.

Good to know, thanks.

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#53 Rocky
February 03 2016, 04:07PM
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Looks good on ya' flamers. Waaahhh.

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#54 FeyWest
February 03 2016, 05:00PM
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@Rocky

Why are you crying? there's actual insightful discussion going on here. Majority of "Flamers" expected a suspension, and in fact realize this is a good opportunity to open up tryouts for the defense corps. But I guess that would make sense as to why you'd be crying since having Wideman in and playing makes us a worse team.

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#55 Canrock 78
February 03 2016, 06:43PM
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My guess is flames get fined for not following conclusion protocol. I wonder if the refs are also under the watchful eye of the same spotters if not I bet they will be soon. I think Dennise is paying for the Lucid punch and the Kassian push.

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#56 Jake the Snail
February 03 2016, 07:25PM
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@Canrock 78

What a can-of-worms this opens up!

Wideman declined concussion protocol...NHL should make the protocol mandatory if a spotter raises it as a possible issue - which was done. Player can refuse? (Because the NHL does not take concussions seriously).

The linesman het the ice. He checked into a hospital for observation overnight. No concussion protocol for on-ice officials? (Because the NHL does not take concussions seriously).

This all started when Wideman got blasted in the head by a Preds player. No penalty was called for a head shot. Why? (Because the NHL does not take concussions seriously).

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#57 RKD
February 03 2016, 08:44PM
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20 games is way too much, Wides has no prior history of any supplementary discipline. If Wides wasn't concussed he certainly had the wind knocked out of him or a stinger. He played the rest of the game didn't go to the quiet room for any testing. I get that the NHL is trying send a message for zero tolerance but if that's the case then guys with a laundry list of disciplinary history should be given lifetime bans. 10 games would have been more reasonable. Hope guys like Kulak and Nakladal get a chance to play.

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#58 R U Kidding Me!
February 03 2016, 08:55PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

I sincerely hope wideman opens a can of whoopass on the NHL - dangerous headshot with no call, failed to initiate concussion protocol for BOTH wideman and the ref - how stupid that the ref finished the game, then later was diagnosed with a concussion? kinda throws cold water on the theory that if wideman did suffer a head injury, he would have said something and not finished the game.

NHL looks bad on this one - failure to protect guys against head shots, failure to call penalties on the head shots, failure to blow the whistle and allow a player who is obviously struggling from a serious head-shot to get to the bench, failure to put both wideman and the linesman on concussion protocol.

The only one who looks bad here is Wideman. Completely unacceptable what he did.

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#59 tyhee
February 04 2016, 08:58AM
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Kevwan wrote:

Your math is right but instead of taking the 195 day season use the full year (365). You'll get a number pretty close to the 563K in the article.

I used a 40 day suspension and got 575K

I agree that that's where the article made the mistake, but suspension money lost is based on the days in the season, not the days in the year.

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#60 Craik
February 04 2016, 10:31AM
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For salary cap calculations the season is 186 days long (see nhlnumbers.com). This means that if someone is called up and added to the roster, their cap hit is 1/186 of their salary per day.

If the reported numbers are correct, Wideman's suspension must only be for game days meaning he must be paid in full for off days.

By this logic, if someone were suspended for a full year, they would still collect well over half of their salary.

Weird

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