During the second period of the Calgary Flames’ matchup against the Nashville Predators, Dennis Wideman took a hit from Miikka Salomaki. Wideman appeared stunned from the play, and attempted to skate back to his bench. On his way, he ended up crosschecking linesman Don Henderson: an action that could see him suspended, as per section 40 of the NHL rulebook.
There are a lot of wrinkles to this story. Wideman may or may not have been fully aware of his actions at the time of his crosscheck. Said crosscheck ultimately sent Henderson to the hospital. And it was the final game before the All-Star Break, meaning everyone is, well, on break.
As a result, Wideman has been suspended indefinitely, pending a hearing to be conducted following the All-Star Break.
Details being finalized. Appears Wideman hearing targeting Tuesday.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 28, 2016
Honestly, in the immediate, this means absolutely nothing. The Flames don’t play again until Wednesday, Feb. 3, when they host the Carolina Hurricanes. Wideman wasn’t going to be seeing any ice time before then regardless, so his being suspended for the time being is of no consequence in the present.
It will, however, be of consequence in the near future. What I gather from all of this is the NHL, like us, doesn’t have a definitive answer for just what happened, and thus, they’ll need time to figure everything out. The timing of the All-Star Break just further pushes things back, as typical NHL actions have ceased while the league gathers in Nashville.
Basically, this indefinite suspension is a message: “We haven’t forgotten about this, but we have other things to tend to at the moment.”
All-Star festivities end on Jan. 31, leaving two full days in between it and the Flames’ return to the ice, which should give the Flames enough time to prepare for what the league’s ultimate decision is. A hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 2 allows them to prepare their lineup for their first game back the following day.
Here’s the relevant passage of the NHL rulebook regarding abuse of officials:
Section 40.4 likely won’t apply to Wideman, considering his actions resulted in physical contact that injured an official, rather than anything demeaning or threatening. This means we’re likely looking at 10-20 games for Wideman, per sections 40.2 and 40.3, as Wideman did cause physical injury, with the only question left to answer being if he intended to do so.
Considering the hit he took prior to contacting Henderson, as well as his own statement of apology and denying intent, it seems Wideman would fall under section 40.3 in regards to disciplinary action. Here’s Kerry Fraser’s in-depth take on the event, in which he details why Wideman may not be completely at fault – and why he could bypass the punishment section 40.2 lays out.
It’s our understanding that Wideman will remain on the Flames’ cap and roster while serving any suspension he may have incurred, which would limit the Flames to six defencemen, and likely a Ladislav Smid – Deryk Engelland bottom pairing over that time. If suspended for 10 games, Wideman would be eligible to return on Feb. 23 against the Los Angeles Kings – six days before the NHL trade deadline.
Wideman clarification: because no game misconduct, Colin Campbell doesn’t have to follow Rule 40. Can choose whatever number he wishes
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 28, 2016
So… is it time for the NHL Wheel of Justice? Who even knows how long he may be gone for, now.
His hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, so let the speculation run rampant for the next five days.