On the same day Dennis Wideman‘s suspension was reduced to 10 games after an appeal to a neutral arbitrator, Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke defended his team’s medical staff, saying proper concussion protocol was followed with Wideman during the incident.
Seconds before Wideman collided with linesman Don Henderson, the Flames defenseman was hit awkwardly into the boards and appeared woozy as he got to his skates. As he was skating back to the bench, he made contact with the official, prompting a 20-game suspension from the league.
Wideman remained in that game, despite the hit.
“A player can exhibit concussion symptoms after a game and our protocol was followed to the letter. The trainers spoke to him, felt he was lucid … and he stayed in the game and finished the game without any difficulty,” Burke told reporters in a press conference on Friday.
“After the game he complained of symptoms, was given a test and registered concussion symptoms. But nothing fell through the cracks.”
It’s worth noting that Wideman spoke to reporters after the game, saying the contact with Henderson wasn’t intentional.
Wideman has missed 19 games as a result of the ban. The Flames play the Arizona Coyotes on Friday, and he’ll be back in the lineup.
In a statement released Friday by the NHLPA, the union said: “Given that it was undisputed that Dennis suffered a concussion mere seconds prior to his collision with linesman Don Henderson, we felt strongly that there should have been no discipline.”
(The NHLPA made a similar statement in February, when it was decided an appeal would be launched.)
Given the length of this specific process through a neutral arbitrator, Burke said he hopes it will be “expedited” for the next occurrence.
“To throw rocks at anyone about the length of time it took, I think is counterproductive,” said Burke.
“I do think they need to … streamline this for the next player that goes through this.”