The NHL suspended Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman indefinitely after his hit on linesman Donnie Henderson sent the official into the boards Jan. 27. Wideman spoke to the media following practice Thursday, one day after finding out the league had decided to suspend him for 20 games, per ESPN.com.
"Firstly, I want to apologize to Donnie Henderson," Wideman said. "I feel awful about what happened. Hopefully he's recovering and he's going to be back on the ice soon, but I feel really bad about the whole situation. The last seven days have been tough."
However, Wideman, who took a big hit from Nashville Predators winger Miikka Salomaki moments before making contact with Henderson, maintained it was not intentional, per ESPN.com:
Never in my career have I ever disrespected or done anything like this to an official. I think I've prided myself on having a great working relationship with the officials, and I hope to continue that when I get out there. But again, I just want to apologize to Donnie. I feel awful about what happened.
As far as the suspension goes, I'm really disappointed with the decision and the length of the suspension. 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, and I'm pretty disappointed with the decision.
The 20-game suspension is the league minimum for making contact with an official, but the NHL Players' Association filed an appeal on Wideman's behalf. As ESPN.com reported, he can appeal again to a neutral arbitrator if NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman upholds or reduces the suspension to six or more games.
The NHL confirmed Wideman suffered a concussion, possibly from Salomaki's hit, and Rick Westhead of the Sports Network explained the Flames could face a fine for not properly treating Wideman:
The NHL's heralded concussion protocol in the Dennis Wideman case wasn't followed. The concussion spotter called down to Calgary bench. 1/2— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) February 3, 2016
Source: According to NHL protocol, Wideman should then have been taken to quiet, distraction-free place & examined by doctor. He wasn’t. 2/2— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) February 3, 2016
Wideman will likely point to the concussion as the reason he accidentally made contact with Henderson.
Whether the Flames receive a fine won't affect Wideman, but his concussion diagnosis could help him win his appeal. If not, Wideman will forfeit $564,516.20, which will be transferred to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund, per ESPN.com.