Earlier this season, Calgary Flames defense Dennis Wideman flattened NHL Linesman Don Henderson. The move drew a relatively light 20-game suspension. Via appeal, an arbitrator cut it in half.
The NHL Officials Association objected strongly to the the outcome. The NFL Referees Association has joined in the objection.
“We concur completely with the NHLOA’s objection to the reduced suspension,” NFLRA executive director Jim Quirk said in a press release. “Regardless of the sport, any time an athlete makes unnecessary physical contact with an official there needs to be swift and certain punishment.
“Cutting the player’s suspension from 20 to 10 games while Linesman Henderson is expected to miss the remainder of the season due to the injury he sustained from the unnecessary hit, sends a horrible message about sportsmanship and the behavior of athletes. The integrity of all sports rests with the conduct of the players and the enforcement of the rules by officials. It’s a sad day when leniency is provided to an athlete who so directly violates this code of conduct and sportsmanship.”
It really is an amazing result, given the brazen nature of Wideman’s conduct. Attacks by players on officials should never be tolerated; for Wideman to miss only 12 percent of the season definitely doesn’t send that message.