Bettman upholds 20-game suspension for Flames’ defenseman Wideman

Commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the 20-game suspension to Calgary Flames blueliner Dennis Wideman. Bettman said a “significant suspension” was appropriate for Wideman, who is now likely to take his case to a neutral arbitrator.
Author:
Publish date:
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

If Dennis Wideman is going to have his 20-game suspension reduced, it’ll be up to a neutral arbitrator to do so.

The NHL announced Wednesday that commissioner Gary Bettman has ruled on Wideman’s 20-game ban for his hit on linesman Don Henderson, and Bettman’s decision is to uphold the original suspension that was handed out to the Flames blueliner. Wideman has already served seven games of the 20-game suspension.

In a full ruling, Bettman stated the NHLPA argued Wideman had suffered a concussion following the check from Nashville Predators winger Miikka Salomaki that left Wideman “confused and/or physically incapable of avoiding contact with Mr. Henderson.” Due to the concussion sustained by Wideman, the NHLPA argued Wideman should have received no discipline “because Mr. Wideman's conduct was not deliberate and was not the result of any intent to injure.”

However, in his ruling, Bettman stated that neither doctor who testified on behalf of Wideman and the NHLPA, Drs. Jeffrey Kutcher and Paul Comper, examined Wideman until several days after he suffered the concussion.

“The conclusions expressed by Dr. Comper and Dr. Kutcher were not based on what Mr. Wideman's capacity actually was at the time in question but about what his condition might have been,” wrote Bettman. “Those conclusions were based on little more than Mr. Wideman's own subjective report of concussion symptoms that he may or may not have actually experienced.”

Later in his ruling, Bettman stated that reducing Wideman’s suspensions on the ground he was confused, lost his balance or lacked impulse control due to concussion would “set a precedent that could be easily manipulated in the future,” and potentially make the game more dangerous for players and officials.

Bettman added that he believed a “significant suspension” was appropriate, and that he didn’t see “the basis for a lesser penalty, particularly given the severity of the conduct involved.” The commissioner added he had the ability to hand Wideman an even more significant suspension, too. Bettman wrote he was “troubled” by Wideman not accepting responsibility.

“The sincerity of (Wideman’s) apologies rings somewhat hollow given the text message he sent to a teammate on February 2 — after the conclusion of the hearing before (NHL director of hockey operations Colin) Campbell — that ‘[t]he only problem and the only reason I'm here is cause the stupid refs and stupid media,’ ” Bettman wrote.

According to numerous reports, Wideman and the NHLPA will be taking the case before a neutral arbitrator. No date has been set for that hearing.

TOP HEADLINES

Mat Barzal
Play

Fantasy Hockey Preview: New York Islanders

For the second straight season, the Islanders were on the cusp of making the finals only to be defeated by the eventual Cup champions. They're projected to be contenders again, and your fantasy team should take note.

Brian Boyle
Play

Veteran Forward Brian Boyle Hoping to Catch on with Penguins

Boyle believed his body was sharp heading into the abbreviated 2020-21 season. Thirty-one NHL teams did not seem to agree. And so for the first time since 2008, Boyle found himself watching the league move on without him. He wants to change that for 2021-22.

Finale_de_la_coupe_de_France_de_Hockey_sur_glace_2013_-_001_-_Luc_Tardif (1)
Play

Luc Tardif Elected IIHF President

French official Luc Tardif was elected president of the International Ice Hockey Federation on Saturday ahead of the return of NHL players to the Olympics in February.