Dennis Wideman suspended 20 games for hit on linesman Don Henderson

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.

  • Soupy19

    Perhaps the NHL thinks 20 games is excessive as well. Maybe they handed out the 20 game suspension to appease the Ref’s Association but knowing full well that Wideman will appeal it and could (likely?) get reduced sentence as a result. It would be a win win for the NHL.

  • FeyWest

    Suspension was coming, I was expecting 10 games given the optics and the types of suspensions handed out for some of the poop that’s happened around the league (Player and/or official). I totally expected a suspension to keep trust in the refs and to show this kind of stuff isn’t tolerated but still think 20 is a little extreme.

    Heck did Lucic get any games for accidentally punching a ref? Weber (VAN) didn’t get any suspension for steam rolling the linesman (Henderson). It just seems so sporadic, theres no real consistency in dealing with these things which I think is ridiculous.

    But I’m looking forward to seeing us tryout some more guys given the roster freedom! Hoping for a successful roster exemption appeal.

  • 10 game suspension punishes Wideman but 20 punishes the Flames making him untradeable. Perhaps Treliving’s and Burke seemed to eager to accept a 10 game suspension so the league decided to make it 20 just to make a point.

    • FeyWest

      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.

  • Canrock 78

    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.

    • 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).

  • RKD

    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.

  • Craik

    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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