Dennis Wideman has some ‘splaining to do. If the Calgary Flames defenseman can’t come up with an exquisitely good reason for why he sent a referee to the ice with a cross-check from behind Wednesday, he’s likely looking at a lengthy suspension.

In a game against Nashville, Wideman took a hard hit in the corner from Predators’ Miikka Salomaki. On his way back to the Flames’ bench, he encountered linesman Don Henderson, and he appeared to deliberately give the official a whack.

Other officials in the game apparently didn’t see the incident, because no penalty was called on Wideman. But his act immediately provoked condemnation on the Internet.

According to the NHL rule book, Wideman could be subject to an automatic suspension of at least 20 games if the NHL determines that he intended to injure Henderson. Perhaps the player can argue that he was knocked woozy from Salomaki’s hit, and he didn’t realize who was in his way, but it seems unlikely that the league will let this go without some sort of punishment.