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Why Did Flames Defenseman Dennis Wideman Blindside a Ref?

If there’s one big no-no in pro sports (heck, any level of sports) it’s that you shouldn’t make contact with a referee or an umpire.

That’s what makes the actions of Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman so surprising. Wideman crosschecked linesman Don Henderson while heading to the bench during the Flames’ loss to the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night.

Wideman had just gotten hit himself and claims the shot to Henderson was accidental. Henderson fell to the ice after Wideman’s surprise shot.

Wideman also did not receive a penalty.

For his part, Wideman tried to explain what happened:

I took a pretty good hit down in the corner and had some pretty good pain in my shoulder and neck. 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. I went up to Donnie and apologized to him on the ice. I didn’t see him. I didn’t know where to go and how to get out of the way. I’ve been around for a few years, and I think I’ve treated every official with the utmost respect, and I would never intentionally try to hit a linesman or a ref. It was completely unintentional, and I already apologized to him.”

Henderson, who wound up in the hopistal that night.

Whether the hit was intentional or not remains up to debate, there are some believe it should result in some sort of suspension. Hitting an official in the NHL comes with a minimum 20-game suspension.

The NHL, which would probably rather talk about its cute fans, is investigating the matter.

Wideman is hardly alone when it comes to athletes making contact with those who call the game. Delmon Young earned a lengthy suspension for tossing a bat at an umpire while in the minor leagues and, more recently, there was the ugly scene at a Texas high school football game last year in which two players say they were told to target a referee.


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