Shortly after Gary Bettman upheld Dennis Wideman‘s 20-game suspension for knocking linesman Don Henderson to the ice, the NHLPA announced its intention to appeal the ruling to an independent arbitrator.
The players’ union released a statement Wednesday, citing Wideman’s apparent concussion at the time of the incident as a reason for why they felt the NHL’s suspension was too harsh.
“We are extremely disappointed but not surprised that Gary Bettman upheld the decision of his staff to suspend Dennis Wideman for 20 games,” the NHLPA statement read. “This decision completely ignores the effects of the concussion that Dennis sustained when he was driven into the boards eight seconds before colliding with the linesman. We will appeal to the Neutral Discipline Arbitrator in order to have this decision overturned.”
According to Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos, the arbitrator expected to hear the case is James Oldham, a law professor at Georgetown University.
The NHLPA would have no other recourse should Oldham agree with the league's decision. This is the first time the NHLPA has appealed a suspension to an independent arbitrator.