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Vermette’s misbehavior is the latest instance of official abuse in the NHL, but not the most dramatic in recent history. Last season, Calgary defenseman Dennis Wideman managed to get his 20-game suspension reduced on appeal after he cross-checked linesman Don Henderson from behind. Wideman was given an automatic 20-game suspension for deliberately attempting to injure an official, and Bettman upheld it before a neutral arbitrator decided Wideman’s action hadn’t been intentional and reduced the ban to 10 games.
Vermette isn’t known as much of a hothead, and he had been enjoying steady success in his first season with the Ducks, who signed the 34-year-old veteran to a two-year deal in August. Along with his remarkable faceoff proficiency, the 2015 Stanley Cup champion has contributed eight goals and 14 assists in 58 games. If Vermette immediately serves an entire 10-game suspension, he would be out until the Ducks have just 14 games left in their regular season. He would be eligible to return for Anaheim’s visit from the Washington Capitals on March 12.
Anaheim hosts the Florida Panthers on Friday. The Ducks recalled forward Corey Tropp from their AHL affiliate in San Diego during Vermette’s disciplinary hearing. After the game, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said he thought Vermette hadn’t acted maliciously, but had been trying to get Alphonso’s attention after what he viewed as an unfair faceoff. Alphonso is a former OHL player in his first full season as an NHL linesman.