NHLPA ‘strongly’ disagrees with Wideman suspension, will appeal

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As many predicted in the wake of Dennis Wideman’s 20-game suspension for hitting linesman Don Henderson, the National Hockey League Players’ Association is appealing Wideman’s ban.

From a union release:

“We strongly disagree with the League’s decision to suspend Dennis Wideman.  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.”

The incident, which occurred during Calgary’s last game before the All-Star break, has been the topic of heavy debate for over a week. Wideman insisted in the aftermath he collided with Henderson accidentally, and had no intention of trying to hurt him.

Wideman also said he apologized to Henderson at the time of the incident.

Prior to delivering what looked to be a cross-check on the veteran official, Wideman was hit hard by Nashville’s Miikka Salomaki. The Flames defenseman didn’t leave the bench, though, and didn’t undergo any concussion-related protocol, opting to stay in the game.

That decision has come under scrutiny, as some believe Wideman was shaken up on the Salomaki hit and “foggy” upon hitting Henderson. (It’s quite feasible this what the PA’s referring to with “medical evidence presented at the hearing.”)

“I took a pretty hard hit down in the corner and had some pretty good pain in my shoulder and my neck and I was just trying to get off the ice,” Wideman said at the time. “And I was kind of keeled over and at the last second, I looked up and I saw him and I couldn’t avoid it.”

As for the appeal, there is a recent precedent with regards to this type of situation. During the 2014 playoffs, then-Rangers forward Dan Carcillo got his 10-game ban for “deliberately applying physical force to an official” reduced to six games.