Twenty-year veteran NHL linesman Don Henderson underwent neck surgery to repair damage from being knocked to the ice by Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman last January, and there are fears his career may be over, the Boston Globe reported Saturday.
According to one of Henderson's friends in the officiating business, the recent surgery was aimed at repairing two ruptured disks in his neck, the result of the hit, per Kevin Paul Dupont's report in the Boston Globe.
Wideman was suspended 20 games, but that was reduced to 10 games by a neutral arbitrator, although the defenseman had already sat out 19 games when the decision made following an appeal.
Wideman apologized, saying the collision was "completely unintentional" after he took a hard hit seconds before knocking down Henderson, 47, from behind on his way to the Calgary bench.
The NHL later confirmed Wideman sustained a concussion on the hit.
The latest news comes days after the NHL reportedly dismissed neutral arbitrator James Oldham, who reduced Wideman's initial suspension. SportsBusiness Daily's Liz Mullen first reported that development.
A neutral arbitrator must be acceptable for both sides, and the NHL, clearly disappointed by the reduced suspension, exercised its right to move on.
"We believe that Arbitrator Oldham, in reaching his decision, exceeded his contractual authority by failing to properly apply the parties' collectively bargained standard of review," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in June.