By now, you’ve seen the replay of Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman cross-checking a linesman during Calgary’s 2-1 home loss to Nashville on Wednesday. The hit was brutal, unnecessary and uncalled for.
Wideman, 32, has been suspended indefinitely for his actions – and rightfully so.
“Look, really good people, really good guys, make mistakes – and I don’t think there’s any doubt (it was intentional),” NHL on NBC lead hockey analyst Eddie Olczyk said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The video doesn’t lie. He got creamed a little big earlier in the shift, and he was on his way back, and with all the cameras you got in the building now, there’s no doubt in my mind he looked to make contact with the linesman. He saw somebody in pinstripes. That can’t happen. That’s inexcusable. You can’t do that. And I would hope that the national Hockey League would punish him severely.
“Now, what is that number?” Olczyk continued. “Is 20 games enough? Is the rest of the season enough? That will be for the powers that be, but for me, there’s no doubt that he was looking to make contact, and you can’t do that. If the league decides it was premeditated – regardless of what anybody says, let alone what Dennis Wideman says – I would say that he’s going to get hit with a pretty heavy suspension and rightfully so.”
Wideman, who was skating back to the bench, simply seemed angered that the linesman, Don Henderson, was in his way. Rather than simply go around Henderson, Wideman wrecked him from behind, sending Henderson into the boards and onto the ice.
“He was pissed off because he got rung a little bit earlier in that shift,” Olczyk said. “But again, that can’t happen. You have to have respect for the guys you’re playing against, and you have to have the respect for the officials. It doesn’t matter how mad or pissed off you may be. You cannot make contact. You cannot due harm to an official. And to me, look, if I had the hammer, I would certainly look north of 30 games for sure.”
An 11-year NHL vet, Wideman is in his fourth year with the Flames. He is second on the team in penalty minutes and has two goals and 19 points in 48 games this season.