Wideman was suspended for checking linesman Don Henderson in a game against Nashville before the all-star break. He was suspended indefinitely prior to the hearing, which was held on Tuesday.
“We strongly disagree with the League’s decision to suspend Dennis Wideman,” said an NHLPA statement. “Dennis has played in 11 NHL seasons and almost 800 games without incident. The facts, including the medical evidence presented at the hearing, clearly demonstrate that Dennis had no intention to make contact with the linesman. An appeal has been filed on the player’s behalf.”
Wideman violated Rule 40 and, if the 20-game ben is upheld, will forfeit $564,516.13 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Wideman was not penalized on the play and Henderson finished the game, although he spent the night in hospital before being released.
The Flames also issued a statement:
“We were informed earlier today that our player, Dennis Wideman, was suspended for contact with an official in last Wednesday’s game against Nashville. We disagree with the severity of today’s suspension ruling and maintain that Dennis’ collision with the linesman was unintentional and accidental. We agree that our officials’ safety and well-being is of extreme importance in order to allow them to perform their duties. They perform an invaluable but underappreciated role in our game. We support sanctions against players who make deliberate contact with any official. However, unintentional and accidental contact does occur at times in our game. We will have no further comment on the matter at this time.”
The collision occurred right after Wideman was hit hard in the corner by Nashville’s Miikka Salomaki. As Wideman was skating to the Flames bench, he hit Henderson. After the game Wideman tried to explain the incident.
“I was just trying to get off the ice. And, at the last second, I looked up and saw him,” Wideman explained. “I couldn’t avoid it. I didn’t know where to go or how to get out of the way of him.”
This appeal will be heard by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.