Monday, February 01, 2016


The Wideman Hit

The Wideman Hit

For any of you who have ever worn stripes, or called balls and strikes, the behaviour of Dennis Wideman of the Calgary Flames likely upset you.

A professional hockey player, with several years in the NHL, with a reasonably good reputation as a clean player. After being checked in the corner, he skated toward the bench. Nearing the bench, he encountered a linesman standing along the boards, with his back to the game, for some unknown reason.

And for another yet unknown reason, Wideman crosschecked the linesman sufficiently hard to drop him. Guys that do the lines in the NHL are not exactly shrinking violets. They are all tough guys. They are required to skate miles every night; they get cut with pucks and sticks and skates, and even errant punches breaking up fights; they are in tremendous physical shape; they are as strong as oxen; they also have to be peacemakers, on occasion.

Not all officials are well liked by the players. There may have been a history with Wideman, and Don Henderson, but that is something that is not known at this time, and may never surface. Personally, I do not find it relevant.

Before they ever take the ice, they work out at the event level in arenas. They run, they stretch, they quietly do what's necessary to do the job. What they would never expect is the kind of thing that happened to Henderson. A cheap shot from someone who knew better.

I threw it out there on FaceBook after it happened. It has been widely viewed by sports fans. Most hockey fans have taken the stance that the league has no option but to follow the rule book to the letter. That would mean that Wideman would receive a 20 game suspension. That would cost him a chunk of change.

Others have taken the position that Wideman may have been hit so hard by Mikka Salomaki that he had no recollection of striking the linesman. I concur that he did take a good rap on the head. But he did get up, slowly, and made his way to the bench.

But before he got to his own bench, he physically abused the official. For that he should be punished.

He was suspended by the NHL, and awaits a hearing. Naturally, they will show video of the hit. There will be several lawyers present. There will be individuals representing the player, the teams, the officials, and others. They will have to reach a conclusion. It may come in the form of a suspension, or a fine.

The league has not had an easy time lately, botching the John Scott affair. He is the player who was elected to the All Star game, even though he does not have the skills to skate with the fastest players in the league. With the three-on-three format being used this year in the All star game, Scott would be in very tough. But he was chosen by the fans, in a format that I can guarantee will be changed.

Next year, the ballot should contain the names of players who have the skills to play the small team format. That is if the league wants the fans to vote on the players. The inmates may not completely run the asylum, in that case.

It was great to see the league handing over the cheque to John Scott as the captain of the winning team of the All Star games. The players certainly “circled the wagons” in support of one of their brother. Rightfully so! His story is touching, and one to follow. It will be interesting to see it all falls out.

The NHL meets with Wideman today to discuss his situation. As always, the clock is ticking....

James Hurst

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