NHL linesman Don Henderson had neck surgery from Dennis Wideman hit: Report

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 15: Linesman Don Henderson #91 looks on during a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Carolina Hurricanes on December 15, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Linesman Don Henderson, who was hit by Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman in a late January game, recently underwent neck surgery. The procedure reportedly stemmed from an injury suffered in the Wideman collision.

The Boston Globe talked with an unnamed league officiating friend of Henderson’s who divulged the surgery and said he feared Henderson’s career might be over. A report from the Calgary Sun last February said the NHL Officials Association had been trying to get the 47-year-old veteran linesman to retire from a concussion also sustained in the hit.

The surgery was reportedly supposed to repair two ruptured disks in Henderson’s neck.

“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,’ ’’ the official said of Henderson in the story. “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.’’

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman initially suspended Wideman 20 games for the hit. An arbitrator then reduced the suspension to 10 games after an appeals process.

Wideman’s defense revolved around his state of mind after a concussion he sustained off a hit from Nashville Predators forward Miikka Salomaki right before he crosschecked Henderson.

The NHL has since tried to get the suspension officially returned to 20 games by filing a suit in June against the NHLPA. The league also fired the arbitrator who presided over the case.

There has been no official word on Henderson in regards to his future status as a league official, but the NHLOA has been steadfast in its belief that Wideman’s suspension should not have been reduced from 20 games.

“The NHLOA strongly disagrees with the arbitrator’s decision to reduce Dennis Wideman’s suspension to 10 games while linesman Don Henderson continues to recover from an injury inflicted by the player that will sideline him for the rest of the season. 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,” NHL Officials Association president Dan O’Halloran said in March. “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.”


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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!