First Dennis Wideman apologized to linesman Don Henderson.
“I feel awful about what happened,” the Flames defenseman said Thursday, the day after he was suspended 20 games by the NHL for hitting Henderson from behind during a Calgary-Nashville game on Jan. 27.
“I feel really bad about the whole situation. The last seven days have been tough. Never in my career have I ever disrespected, or done anything like this, to an official.”
With that said, Wideman then turned his attention to the suspension, which the NHLPA will appeal on his behalf.
“I’m really disappointed with the decision and the length of the suspension,” he said. “I did not have any intent at any time to hit the official or hurt him or anything like that. I would never do something like that.”
Wideman did not take questions, telling reporters that he couldn’t comment any further due to the decision being under appeal.
“When the time’s right and the time comes then I can take your questions and answer them,” he said.
Suffice to say, it all remains a bit of a mystery.
The NHLPA offered a clue to Wideman’s defense yesterday. In a statement, the players’ union cited the “medical evidence” that was presented at his hearing which purportedly showed “Dennis had no intention to make contact with the linesman.”
The NHLPA did not specify what “medical evidence” was presented; however, the NHL acknowledged in its explanation of the suspension that Wideman was diagnosed with a concussion following the Jan. 27 game.
“It is accepted for the purposes of this decision that he was later diagnosed as having suffered a concussion,” the NHL said. “However, that fact even accepted as true, cannot excuse Wideman’s subsequent actions.”
The Flames, for their part, also released a statement yesterday saying they disagreed with the suspension, though there was no mention of any concussion or “medical evidence.”
Today, Flames head coach Bob Hartley said that Wideman has since passed concussion protocol and will be practicing throughout his suspension.