By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — You have to be a tough individual to officiate professional hockey games. Breaking up scrums between a mass of behemoths is just part of the job, as is the threat of a near-seven-foot-tall beast barreling toward you or flailing his paws around your face. These two linesmen got a hard, bitter taste of that reality Wednesday night.
Not sure what the deal is with former Bruins suddenly turning on the refs, but something in their brain went haywire in Wednesday night’s action. First, former Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman, now with the Calgary Flames, absolutely nails linesman Don Henderson with a cross-check from behind while gliding back to the bench without breaking stride. In the replay, you can see Wideman take a hit and look dazed and stunned as he headed for the bench. It appears he wasn’t even looking and assumed Henderson was a Nashville Predators player. Watch the bizarre moment in the video above.
Wideman said he apologized to Henderson on the ice soon after the incident, which he said was a total accident. He is certainly not known as a dirty player so it’s hard not to believe him. However, Wideman sounds like he’s not expecting a hearing on any kind of punishment for the hit, saying: “I’d be surprised but if it happens all I can do is tell my side and tell what happened and hope for the best.”
It shouldn’t matter that Wideman is not a bad guy or dirty player or has any prior offenses. You hit an official like that, you get whacked. Should be a zero-tolerance situation. Wideman should expect, at least, a hefty fine for that cross-check.
Down south in Los Angeles, former Bruin Milan Lucic has also kind of lost it in the past couple of weeks. First, he got himself suspended a game for sucker-punching Arizona Coyotes defenseman Kevin Connauton. Now, he figures to face more discipline after accidentally punching linesman Jay Sharrers in the face during a dust-up after the whistle. He appears to be going for Colorado’s Cody McLeod
Obviously, both of these hits were unintentional. They were accidents. Well, technically Wideman hit that linesman intentionally, but he looked like he didn’t know what planet he was on at the time. That still shouldn’t exempt either player from punishment. Wideman had a major short-circuit in his brain that made him do a stupid thing while Lucic just lost control during some extracurriculars. Maybe they really miss being on the Big Bad Bruins that much.
Fists of fury from a 6-foot-4 mountain and improvised weapons rammed into your back for no reason. Just two of the many hazards facing NHL referees.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.