After a lengthy appeal, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the initial 20-game suspension for Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman.
Wideman was initially suspended on Feb. 3 for Jan. 27 collision with official Don Henderson, who was concussed on the collision.
The crux of Wideman’s defense was that he suffered a concussion on a hit immediately before crashing into Henderson. (It’s a defense that opens up another can worms, with the Flames not taking proper precautions with a potential concussion to Wideman.)
The NHL didn’t buy it. They suspended Wideman 20 games, which, under rule 40.2, is the minimum number of games a player can get if they are deemed to have intent to injure an official. While the details of either hearing are not made public, it seems that the concussion defense would hinge on, at a minimum, taking away any sense that Wideman had the intent to injure Henderson.
In the announcement of his ruling, Bettman writes that he is “troubled by Mr. Wideman’s total failure to accept any responsibility for his actions.”
He continues, “Indeed, although he made much at the hearing about the apologies he had already made to Mr. Henderson, the sincerity of those apologies rings somewhat hollow given the text message he sent to a teammate on February 2 — after the conclusion of the hearing before Mr. [Colin] Campbell — that “(t)he only problem and the only reason I’m here is cause the stupid refs and stupid media.”
That statement gives rise to the question: How did the NHL have text messages from Wideman’s teammates? The answer: Subpoena, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Wednesday’s ruling comes after Wideman’s first appeal, which goes directly to Bettman. Wideman has one more opportunity for an appeal. That would be taken to a neutral arbitrator, something that has never been done under the current collective bargaining agreement. It is likely that Wideman will take this option, reports Friedman.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.