Dennis Wideman's Suspension Reduced to 10 Games: Comments, Reaction

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Dennis Wideman's Suspension Reduced to 10 Games: Comments, Reaction
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman's 20-game suspension for slamming into a referee during a January 27 game against the Nashville Predators was reportedly reduced to 10 games Friday.

According to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun (h/t Yahoo Sports NHL), an independent arbitrator ruled in Wideman's favor to cut the original suspension in half.

Also from Yahoo Sports NHL, even though Wideman has already served 19 games of his suspension, his early reinstatement means he will receive nearly $280,000 in lost salary.

Per Frank Seravalli of TSN Sports, arbitrator James Oldham ruled that Wideman, in his opinion, did not "deliberately strike" referee Don Henderson.

The NHL released an official statement through its public relations account on Twitter announcing it will review the arbitrator's decision to explore potential further action:

The NHL Players' Association also released a statement through its official website following the decision to reduce Wideman's suspension:

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. Nonetheless we are pleased that Arbitrator Oldham found that the collision was not intentional and that the suspension was reduced to 10 games. We respect the process and the decision and we look forward to Dennis returning to the ice tonight with his teammates.

The NHL Officials Association also released a statement on the decision Saturday, per TSN's Bob McKenzie:

Seravalli did point out he's not sure what the NHL's reasoning would be to take the case back to court since Wideman has already sat out 19 games and is only able to recoup lost pay.

The play in question occurred midway through the second period of Nashville's 2-1 victory over Calgary, with Wideman barreling into Henderson.

Wideman told reporters after the game, per the New York Post, that a hard hit he sustained immediately before the play in question played a role in the series of events.

"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. "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."

After the NHL announced Wideman's 20-game suspension, the NHL Players' Association said it planned to appeal on his behalf, noting that "the facts, including the medical evidence presented at the hearing, clearly demonstrate that Dennis had no intention to make contact with the linesman."

The injury situation with Wideman is what makes this case so unique. Out of context, he does appear to just run into Henderson, and it seemingly warrants a maximum suspension. Factoring in that Wideman had just absorbed a huge hit changes the dynamic of this case.

Wideman has appeared in 48 games for the Flames this season, scoring two goals and recording 17 assists. Calgary is currently tied with the Edmonton Oilers for last place in the Pacific Division with 61 points.

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