By the time Dennis Wideman knows the neutral arbitrator’s ruling in the case of his 20-game suspension, it’s expected he will have served at least 90 percent of his original ban.
According to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said it’s not anticipated that arbitrator James Oldham will have made his decision until the week of March 7, meaning any resolution to Wideman’s case is still at least one week away. Wideman was originally handed his 20-game ban by the league on Feb. 3 and he met with commissioner Gary Bettman to appeal the initial suspension on Feb. 10.
If Oldham upholds the suspension, Wideman will be forced to sit out until March 14 when the Flames host the St. Louis Blues, and it will have been a month and a half since he last suited up in game action.
Wideman’s suspension stems from a Jan. 27 incident involving linesman Don Henderson. While skating up ice following a hard hit from Nashville winger Miikka Salomaki, Wideman checked Henderson from behind, causing him to fall to the ice. Henderson was forced from the contest and hasn’t worked a game since the incident. Initially, Wideman was suspended indefinitely, but the 20-game ban was handed down following a hearing with the league. To go along with the 20-game suspension, Wideman is set to lose more than $564,000 in salary due to the ban. He will, however, be reimbursed should his suspension be reduced.
Wideman contested that he was concussed during the incident, and he had asked that the suspension be reduced to zero games in his meeting with Bettman. However, Bettman upheld the 20-game suspension, calling it a sufficient punishment for Wideman’s actions. Bettman added that he had the power to increase the suspension length if he deemed it appropriate, but saw 20 games as a stiff enough punishment.
Shortly after Bettman’s ruling, the NHLPA and Wideman announced they would seek neutral arbitration, and the Flames defenseman had his case heard this past Thursday and Friday in New York City.
It was reported by Sportsnet’s Damien Cox over the weekend that Calgary had asked the NHL to allow Wideman to play until there was a resolution. That was denied by the league, and it appears the Flames themselves could be facing repercussions for their handling of Wideman.
Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski reported the league is looking into Calgary’s handling of Wideman, who was said to have suffered a concussion. Wideman remained in the game and continued to play.
The Flames currently sit 12 points back of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. In Wideman’s absence, Calgary has gone 5-7-1, but have dropped seven of their past eight games. In 48 games this season, Wideman has two goals and 19 points and was averaging more than 21 minutes per game.