Don Henderson, the NHL linesman injured in an infamous on-ice incident last season, is suing Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman and the team for $10.25 million, according to TSN and CTV.
Wideman assaulted Henderson in a January 27, 2016, Flames game against the Nashville Predators. Wideman cross-checked Henderson, seemingly out of nowhere, concussing the linesman. He was suspended by the NHL for 20 games, before it was reduced to 10 games on appeal.
According to Chris Epp of CTV, Henderson is claiming that Wideman cost him $10 million in lost revenue, future revenue and future earning capacity. He calls the incident an “attack” and that Wideman was “aware that (he) remained unsuspecting and was completely defenseless.”
Epp reports the lawsuit chronicles Henderson’s need for medication and counseling, as well as his injuries:
— CTV – Chris Epp (@CTVchrisepp) April 20, 2017
According to Rick Westhead, the Alberta government has gotten involved:
AB govt wants Wideman and Flames to cover cost of Henderson’s dental surgery, optometric, mental health, chiropractic, podiatrist services.
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) April 20, 2017
He hasn’t officiated a game since the incident. There was a report in July 2016 that Henderson underwent neck surgery. In January 2017, former NHL referee Paul Stewart wrote about Henderson, saying: “My advice to him would be to go for the throat, the wallet and the vault. His career is done.”
The NHL decided that Wideman was in violation of Rule 40.2 which states that “any player who deliberately strikes an official and causes injury or who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official with intent to injure” is given an automatic 20-game suspension.
It was reduced to 10 games on appeal to an independent arbitrator. The NHL went to court with the NHLPA over that reduction, eventually losing in March 2017 when U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan said the NHL failed to show that the arbitrator, Georgetown University law professor James Oldham, exceeded his authority under the NHL CBA.
Wideman is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
This should be a fascinating lawsuit, should it go to trial.
After his suspension, Wideman’s defense revolved around his state of mind after an alleged concussion he sustained off a hit from Nashville Predators forward Miikka Salomaki, a hit that occurred right before he crosschecked Henderson.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, in his ruling, attacked the concussion theory with evidence that included a lucid text message Wideman sent to a teammate that read “the only problem and the only reason I’m here is cause the stupid refs and stupid media.” He also questioned the diagnosis of the concussion, as it was done remotely by two experts in clinical neuropsychology who did not consult the Flames’ team trainer in their evaluation.
If the concussion is at issue, it’s going to be heated.
Looks like the resolution of Wideman’s suspension was just the latest chapter in this controversy, rather than the last one.
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