Assault on NHL official needs to be dealt with harshly


Yes, this isn’t a story about the NFL. Feel free to scroll to the next article.

But there’s a connection to the NFL, given that this story is about a pro athlete blatantly assaulting a game official.

Although Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman claims that his cross-checking of linesman Don Henderson was accidental, the video tells a far different story. The video shows that Wideman deliberately crammed his stick into Henderson’s back, knocking Henderson into the board and send him careening onto the ice.

“I took a pretty good hit down in the corner and had some pretty good pain in my shoulder and neck,” Wideman said, via “I was just trying to get off the ice and kind of keeled over. At the last second, I looked up and saw [Henderson] and couldn’t avoid it.

Again, the video tells a far different story. Wideman should be prosecuted for assault. At a minimum, the NHL should impose a lengthy suspension on Wideman, possibly banning him for the rest of the year.

Here’s where I try to bring it back to why you’re here. If something like this happened in the NFL, it would be the top story in all of sports, and it would be covered by the morning shows on the major network along with the evening newscasts.

Actually, the NFL had a similar scandal, in the early days of the Internet and pre-social media. In December 1999, referee Jeff Triplette accidentally threw a flag into the facemask of former Browns tackle Orlando Brown, who responded by confronting Triplette and knocking him down. Brown was ejected and suspended, but it was clear he had provocation (he later settled a lawsuit against the NFL, before resuming his career).

Wideman had no such provocation, making the situation far more egregious. Wideman should be in jail; hopefully, he won’t be on a rink any time soon.

77 responses to “Assault on NHL official needs to be dealt with harshly

  1. The NHL is gutless if they don’t throw this player out of the league. There is absolutely no reason for what he did to the linesman.

  2. Assault prosecution? Sorry, but I think officials are in the same category as players here: You’re on the ice, you assume the risk that something bad might happen. Wideman is on the hook for a potential ten game suspension, that’s good enough for this multisport fan.

  3. you can buy Wideman’s story up until the arms come up and the punch goes into the back of the official. Even if Wideman says he did it in self defense, the fact that he didn’t stop to help the ump, or show any remorse on the bench proves (to me at least) that this was intentional.

    It’s at least as bad and, in my opinion, far worse than those high school boys — Wideman is a professional and an adult, he needs to know better.

  4. The player has no history of bad behavior and he was clearly concussed. If you look at his feet you can see him try to stop like he just realizes what hes doing.

    Aggression, concussion, and irritability are all symptoms of concussion.

  5. He’s in line for a potential 10 game suspension, as a player with absolutely nothing to his Player Safety record, I’d consider that plenty of punishment and we can all move on

  6. There is a parallel to the NFL when you had refs trying to separate the pushing and shoving during the Pittsburg/ Cincinnati game.

    Players on both sides were pushing the refs with no regard for them or their safety.

    Now I know this past year was the year of the crappy refs but no matter at what level be it little league through the pros if the official is not respected and revered then the core fabric of that sport is in jeopardy.

    Whether it is a 15 yr old umpire or a 50 yr old professional ref the respect should be the same.

  7. I’m not going to bring the law into this. Bettman knows he has to basically suspend Wideman for the rest of the year. The minimum standard is 20 for striking an official. He gave Raffy Torres 41 to start the season after that hit on Silfverberg, and this was worse.

    I don’t buy Wideman’s excuse at all.

  8. It does not matter what the sport is, no one can ever touch a referee/umpire, if this is let go and no punishment is given, it would just open up the door to say, go ahead and do it again, when you do not get a call your way, you won’t get punished anyway. 20 game suspension minimum.

  9. Watched this several times……same opinion each time…..he did it intentionally and needs to be severely penalized in order to protect all officials. I would suspend him immediately and indefinitely with the ability for him to request reinstatement in a year.

    I would not advocate that they file assault charges. I would rather see this dealt with by the NHL. If nothing is done, then perhaps involving the legal system would be an option.

    Now; back to the NFL…….

  10. Any time a player is physical with an official in any sport it needs to be harshly dealt with. The officials are only really able to control the games based upon the illusion that they are somehow a higher power. Once players figure out that they are bigger, stronger and more physically intimidating than the officials, control on the field is lost because that illusion evaporates.

    If this guy is not suspended for at least the remainder of the season and at least attempt to press charges on him, then it is going to start being harder and harder to maintain order on the ice.

  11. Another reason why I don’t care for the NHL. Anyway you have to be a blind idiot not to believe that was not intentional. He should be banned from the league.

  12. This Canuck believes he should be prosecuted for battery not assault, right? I don’t believe he said anything to the linesman before knocking him down.

    They taught us in school that careen means to tilt over (like a ship) and careering is something moving away in uncontrolled fashion.

  13. No, he shouldn’t be in jail. That’s plain silly. Spoken like a slimy trial attorney. He absolutely should be suspended for a long time. The whole “if this happened on the street” argument is silly. It didn’t happen on the street.

    If two guys threw haymakers at one another on the street for 90 seconds they’d go to jail. Does that mean NHL players that fight should too? Nonsense.

  14. And for those who claim he was concussed, he reentered the game without being checked by the doctors (same protocol as NFL), so I really don’t buy Wideman’s claims at all.

  15. Wideman should pick on someone his own size. I punked that guy when he was with the Washington Capitals. While on vacation on DC with family, we were at a restaurant when this clown showed up, started acting like he owned the place, then came over to our table, talking about how he was going to “hand out an a$$ kicking to everyone” for not giving him “respect.” Him being 6 feet 200 lbs. and me 6’6″ 250 lbs. I confronted him and changed his attitude very quickly. I’m just glad the guy who took a video deleted it instead of putting it out in cyberspace.

  16. I just don’t know how you “accidentally” cross check a linesman in the back. That’s the thing that made me nearly slide off my chair when I heard Barry Melrose actually taking up for him.

  17. The fact that there was no provocation doesn’t seem like grounds for harsher punishment, it seems like it would support his claim that it was no intentional.

    Why would a player with no history of poor conduct assault an official when he had no reason to?

  18. Though I agree with a lot of what you say here your incessant whining about what “should be” is beyond irritating and about the only thing that makes me strongly dislike this blog and your TV show which I stopped watching last year.

  19. If this was the NFL…

    The league would hire an independent consultant to evaluate the event then we would wait 6-12 weeks. The league would take 4 weeks the review the recommendation and then hold a hearing with the player. Then they would suspend him for 30 games after concluding that he more likely than not knew what he was doing.

    Then the nflpa would appeal citing that regardless of the event and/or the players guilt, the league had no right to suspend the player. Then the whole thing would go to court and 6 weeks later the player would be released from the suspension due to legal rights and responsibilities being mis-used by the commissioner and all his fans would celebrate his complete innocence.

  20. Precedent would state 10 games as Rick Zombo slashed a referee in a similarly stupid impulse reaction.

  21. That’s probably a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and an $11,573.29 fine in the NFL.

  22. I agree completely. This scumbag should be on the cover of every newspaper and in every headline.

  23. Any player who stoops to hurting a game official is a coward in my book.
    Deserves to be expelled from the league.

  24. There’s no doubt he did it intentionally. He slowed down and faced him and everything. But there’s the argument that he might not have known what he was doing because he was dazed or whatever. I don’t buy it, but we’ll never know. Either way, he has to be punished.

    Oh, and go Preds.

  25. The Orlando Brown thing is a little different, because Triplett cost Brown his eye with that flag. If I were in a game and a ref cost me my eye, yeah, I’d be angry. I’d probably be eating a suspension and it wouldn’t matter because I wouldn’t be playing from the eye injury. And in the end, Brown’s suspension was lifted when his eye injury didn’t heal.

    Triplett didn’t do that intentionally, but that’s one hell of a provocation.

    Cheap-shotting an official in the back without provocation is way, way different. Guy deserves whatever punishment he gets–and probably more.

  26. NFL example with Orlando Brown is a bad one. The ref’s flag actually cause substantial damage to his eye and he was out a couple of seasons while his eye healed. The NFL eventually gave him over $10 million as part of settlement. And sadly he died from diabetes at age 40.

  27. chc4 says:
    Jan 28, 2016 4:23 PM

    No, he shouldn’t be in jail. That’s plain silly. Spoken like a slimy trial attorney. He absolutely should be suspended for a long time. The whole “if this happened on the street” argument is silly. It didn’t happen on the street.

    If two guys threw haymakers at one another on the street for 90 seconds they’d go to jail. Does that mean NHL players that fight should too? Nonsense.
    In some states, assaulting or contacting a game official is a crime. Depending on what state it occurs, charges can and will be filed. It just happened to a high school basketball coach in Philly that head-butted an official. Google it! Same with the football players in Texas.

  28. NFL example with Orlando Brown is a bad one. The ref’s flag actually cause substantial damage to his eye and he was out a couple of seasons while his eye healed. The NFL eventually gave him over $10 million as part of settlement. And sadly he died from diabetes at age 40.

    I think he used that as example only in that he touched the ref. It seems as though he gave him a pass for having reason

  29. At the very least, a year (going into next season) suspension, with a lot of “wink wink, nod nod” open acknowledgement that he’ll have a tough time finding someone to pick him up after then (ala Ray Rice)

    Possibly criminal charges, as well. Do your research–it has happened before. The ref has absolutely no way to defend himself from this.

  30. He’s a T Hug and should be arrested for his behavior, his hearing should be conducted after the season when he can petition for reinstatement…..he’s a coward and coward’s need to be dealt with severely

  31. No this does not belong on the NFL page. Let’s go back to talking about Cam doing the Nae Nae, Dab, The Whip, and the Run off all in one celebration.

    Oh my bad. That was JJ Watt who did that. Oh well, carry on.

  32. stick to reporting news. we only saw the rear vantage point. for all we know he was dazed and looking down. Maybe he saw what he thought was an opposing player coming to hit him again so he put up his stick in defense and to fight off the hit. Seriously, stick to the news about the NFL. It’s bad enough we have to hear you pontificate about the NFL we certainly don’t need to hear it about a sport you are even more clueless about.

  33. Like Wideman did not see black and white striped shirt, must of been a side effect of some of the pills advertised on TV.

  34. Mr concussion crier blows off a guy taking a significant hit to the head before he bumped the ref. Yep thats about the kind of consistency I expect from this blog.

  35. The NHL needs to suspend whoever this guy is (who plays for whatever team in red that is) for hitting whoever that ref is.

    I’d suspend him for the rest of the season if I knew how much longer in the season there was.

    Or I’d suspend him for the playoffs if I knew if the red team was going to make the playoffs.

    If I was one of the 335 people in the country who watch hockey I’d be pretty p.o.’ed right now.

  36. I’m inclined to let the guy off with a warning.
    After all he didn’t see the ref.
    I believe him.
    Sure I do.

    I just wired some money to Nigeria to help someone, and I’ll be getting rich off that quite soon.
    Plus I bought this bridge in New York City.

  37. I dont think it was on purpose, but he didn’t try to let up either. 10-20 games probably

  38. Furthermore, watching the video again, it looks like as he was heading toward the bench, he was focused the play, with the puck carrier coming in his direction, in front of him – and obviously not noticing the linesman.
    Afterward, when sitting on the bench he sure didn’t look so upset that he would have hit the linesman on purpose.
    Still seems accidental to me.

  39. What really pizzas me off is that Wideman did not have the balls to own up to his mistake. He just keeps on lying. It kind of reminds me of the steroid taking NFL and MLB guys who swear that it was in the gatorade or supplements or health food. He hit him – I was watching the game and thought that he deserved a big suspension at the time and the more I want it and the more I see the step by step video of it – the more that it obviously appears intentional. So just admit it and it will be only a one time black mark – denying it and making excuses ( I was dazed and confused) makes it worse.

  40. This is beyond the game. You don’t ever touch a ref, not even slightly. He sized him up, and hit him in the head. It was 100% pre meditated. This absolutely should be a jail situation, and at least a 1 year ban from the sport if not lifetime. You need to send a strong message here that you do not assault those who enforce the rules.

  41. NHL players get away with over-aggressiveness that is not tolerated in international play. Anyone that says “the only reason to watch hockey is the fights” is not a true fan of hockey (just like people that watch racing for the wrecks are not true racing fans). Cleaning up some of the cheap-shot tactics and useless brawling in the NHL is long overdue. The league office needs to start doing their job.

  42. The “I couldn’t avoid it” claim is complete BS. Everyone knows that the second they see the video. The only remotely possible defense he could throw out there is that the hit on him was so hard, that he was dazed and confused, and mistook the ref for an opposing player. I believe the video shows the puck coming up ice right near Wideman. Maybe his possibly concussed brain thought he was checking an opponent. That, or Wideman was retaliating against the ref for not calling a penalty on the guy who slammed him. I say toss him for the rest of the season.

  43. Not so sure I agree that it would be the biggest story on the news networks if it was an NFL player.

    If Peyton Manning got sacked, then stood up and launched the ball at the back of the refs head, it would be the #1 play on not top 10, and everyone would chuckle…

  44. I think this play no doubt earned a suspension. And I think he made the hit on purpose. But I’m not entirely sure he was aware of what he was doing. He had just gotten crushed, and he definitely looked groggy. I think in his groggy state, heading back to the bench, the play was coming back toward him. It is possible, since his team was in red, and the other team was in white, he mistook the official for an opponent. Decided to exact a little revenge for the hit he just took, and drilled the guy.

    But I wouldn’t argue against it if the NHL determined that it was a calculated move to drill the official, because there is enough visual evidence to conclude it was on purpose. I just have a hard time believing that a player with no history of this kind of thing all of a sudden just became Matt Cooke times 100

  45. Actually the NFL already had this happen (player on ref).

    I dont know if it was Vikings-Steelers about 6-8 years ago, but it was a Vikings game.

    There had been a call that went against the Vikings, I dont know how atrocious it was. Later in the game, on a punt (I think), one of the Vikings players on ST (I think it was a TE but I might be mistaken) deliberately deviated while going downfield to knock over a ref. He was taking liberal advantage of the “part of the field” rule to get in a little payback.

  46. The reason this isn’t headline news (as you suggest it would be if it happened in the NFL) is that most people don’t take the NHL seriously. With all the “legal” fighting that takes place on the ice between players who’s going to blink if it happens to a ref. Until the NHL eliminates ALL fighting the game won’t be taken seriously by most sports fans. It will reamain nothing more than WWE on skates.

  47. Lots of people here are going to be disappointed when NHL announces the suspension.

    In the first place, he is NOT in line for a minimum 10 game suspension. That only kicks in if the player gets a game misconduct for his act, and nothing was given here. So its basically whatever Campbell wants to do.

    Second, he claiming he got his bell rung and didn’t realize it was an official. Since he has no history at all of stuff like this, league is likely to accept it.

    The people screaming for lengthy bans tend to be people with little or no connection to hockey. In hockey, the big bans are for repeat offenders and for flagrant and deliberate fouls. None of that applies here. The only chance for a long suspension is if a lynch mob hysteria is worked up by the media.

    My guess is about 4 games, for carelessness.

  48. channelguy says:
    Jan 29, 2016 9:52 AM

    …My guess is about 4 games, for carelessness.


    Seems about right to me. Up to 10 would also not be out of line, though. That and a hefty fine.

  49. His explanation was absolutely hilarious. Basically, it was because I have never done anything like this before, you have to let me off because I have been otherwise very respectful of officials. So if you shoot someone and kill them, because it’s your FIRST murder, we should let you off? lol

  50. I have gone back and forth on this, and read a lot of articles about this hit.

    The first article I read had a clip that did not show the previous check in the corner. The article was about people defending Wideman saying he may have suffered a concussion.

    At the time, I was possibly willing to buy that for reasons in the next paragraph, but after seeing the video above, in particular, the shot of him on the bench seemingly totally clear-eyed, I started to sway the other way, but then I read even more articles.

    I was/am willing to believe it was possible that he was so out of it that his reaction was so slow that what looked like lining the ref up was possibly just the concussion; and that raising his arms was more of an instinctual reaction to not get hit himself.

    His reputation as a clean player before this is the only reason I am troubled. 99.99% of the time, this would be cut and dry, but he did spend the night in the hospital with concussion symptoms, and has been genuinely apologetic since. Why would a previously clean player line up a ref (linesman really) for what is an automatic 20-game suspension. It just does not make sense.

    If I were the NHL, I would look for more video of Wideman right after the play, and more angles, and then make a decision.

    For the record, I am not an NHL fan, and if I were, my team would not be Calgary.

  51. I definitely buy into his story that he was knocked woozy and didn’t have his wits about him, and he’ll likely receive a 10 game suspension for hitting the referee. The bigger story to me and the more troubling aside is that the team allowed him back on the ice two minutes after this happened. Is there a concussion protocal in hockey?

  52. If he were a referee who actually calls penalties and had called one against him or had some beef with him in the past I could see why he did it, but it was a linesman so something just doesn’t add up?

  53. No attempt to go back and try to help the ref did it for me. No remorse tells everything. The team puts this guy back on the ice?? What is that? I hope the team is fined and he gets canned for the season. Punk a$$ nails a ref with a weapon? You’re done.

  54. cruzer1996 says:
    Jan 29, 2016 10:54 AM
    I definitely buy into his story that he was knocked woozy and didn’t have his wits about him, and he’ll likely receive a 10 game suspension for hitting the referee. The bigger story to me and the more troubling aside is that the team allowed him back on the ice two minutes after this happened. Is there a concussion protocal in hockey?

    There is protocol, and he was not checked, and immediately went back in for his next shift.

    And he’s getting 20 minimum. Those are the baselines for such conduct.

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