NHL linesman's $10.2M lawsuit against Calgary Flames, Dennis Wideman sent to arbitration

A $10.2-million lawsuit filed by an NHL linesman against the Calgary Flames and Dennis Wideman has been stayed by a judge and ordered to be heard by an NHL arbitrator.

Queen's Bench justice stays lawsuit and rules it is an employment issue

NHL linesman Don Henderson was hit by Calgary Flame Dennis Wideman during the second period of a game in Calgary on Jan. 27, 2016. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

A $10.2-million lawsuit filed by an NHL linesman against the Calgary Flames and defenceman Dennis Wideman has been stayed by a judge and ordered to be heard by an NHL arbitrator. 

Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice Willie deWit made the ruling Friday afternoon after the defendants applied to stay the lawsuit earlier this year.

DeWit agreed with the defendants' position that NHL linesman Don Henderson must abide by the agreement between the NHL and its members — including officials — which says disputes like this one fall under the umbrella of employment issues and must be dealt with through league arbitration.

Henderson had argued the matter should remain in court because, based on their prior involvement with Wideman's suspension, league commissioner Gary Bettman and the league showed bias.

Henderson cross-checked

Henderson was hit by Wideman during a game against the Nashville Predators on Jan. 27, 2016.

In the second period, Wideman took a hit from Predators' Miikka Salomaki. Moments later, Wideman was skating toward the Flames' bench when he cross-checked Henderson, who had his back to the defenceman. 

Wideman was suspended for 10 games.

Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman hits linesman

8 years ago
Duration 1:22
Featured VideoLinesman Don Henderson would stay in the game.

In his statement of claim filed last April, Henderson said he was still not able to work because of his injuries, suffering "a limitation of activities and loss of enjoyment of life." 

The lawsuit claimed Henderson suffered head and neck injuries and a concussion when he was "violently struck."

The injuries cost Henderson $10 million in lost income and future earnings, according to the lawsuit, which also seeks $250,000 in general and special damages.

​Speaking with reporters in Calgary on Friday before deWit delivered his decision, Bettman refused to comment on the lawsuit because it was before the courts.


Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is a justice affairs reporter. She has been covering courts, crime and stories of police accountability in southern Alberta for more than a decade. Send Meghan a story tip at or follow her on Twitter.