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Referee Injured by Wideman Still Recovering
- Updated: July 31, 2016
It’s been five months since we last reported on the condition of Don Henderson, the linesmen who suffered a concussion at the hands of Dennis Wideman. And over the course of that time his condition hasn’t gotten any better. Three weeks ago he required neck surgery to repair damage from the hit.
According to one of his friends in the officiating business, Henderson’s recent surgery was aimed at repairing two ruptured disks in his neck, the result of the hit. Felled in the second period, he dusted himself off and finished the game the night he was injured.
“I know a lot of people are saying stuff like, ‘Hey, Wideman’s not that type of guy . . . that’s not in his nature . . . he’s a good kid,’ ’’ said one of Henderson’s longtime pals in stripes. “And I say, ‘Yeah, so what?!’ That doesn’t make it any less egregious. He attacked him from behind, the puck was nowhere near the two of them, and now Henderson’s career may be finished. I don’t see much difference between what he did and Wayne Maki cracking his stick over Teddy Green’s head.’’
As an official myself, this situation has been an embarrassment for the NHL and their refusal to have the back of the men in stripes. Wideman was originally suspended 20 games, but after appeals it was reduced to 10 games. But by the time that decision was made by the arbitrator he had already served 19 games of the original 20 game suspension. That meant he earned $282,258 in back pay of the $564,516 he was going to forfeit as a result of the suspension.
After that happened, the NHLOA issued the following statement:
“The message in reducing the suspension that is sent to NHL players, as well as athletes all over the world, including children, is that the code of conduct towards officials has changed,” the statement says. “The NHLOA intends to take all steps necessary so that its members are protected in the future and ensure that this type of conduct by a player against an official never happens again.”
The NHL did fire the arbitrator on July 1 and filed a lawsuit against the NHL Players’ Association back in June, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot for Henderson’s condition.
Henderson turns 48 in September. While it appears that he’ll never officiate a hockey game again, we can only hope he’ll be able to lead a healthy productive life.