Arbitrator Reduces Dennis Wideman’s Suspension for Blindsiding Referee

Don Henderson
The Associated Press

Calgary Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman was given a 20-game suspension for blind siding a referee but now an arbitrator has reduced that punishment by half.

Wideman gave a brutal cross-checking to a ref during a January 27th game against the Nashville Predators sparking the 20-game suspension. But almost immediately the NHL Players Association appealed the decision.

Already the player has missed 19 games waiting for his appeal to be completed and it is being reported that he may get back as much as $564,516 in salary he’d have lost to fines.

The NHLPA had argued that “no discipline is appropriate because Mr. Wideman’s conduct was not deliberate and was not the result of any intent to injure. They contend that Mr. Wideman’s concussion just prior to the incident rendered him confused and/or physically incapable of avoiding contact with Mr. Henderson.”

Initially NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman rejected Wideman’s appeal and upheld the suspension.

But now a second appeal by neutral arbitrator James Oldham has succeeded in reducing the suspension.

The two parties have released statements about the latest development.

The NHL said:

We are in receipt of Arbitrator James Oldham’s Opinion in the appeal of Dennis Wideman’s supplementary discipline suspension and reducing the suspension from 20 to 10 games. We strenuously disagree with the Arbitrator’s ruling and are reviewing the Opinion in detail to determine what next steps may be appropriate. We will have no further comment until we have completed our review. In light of and in response to Arbitrator Oldham’s Opinion, Mr. Wideman will be reinstated and will be eligible to participate in his team’s games, effective immediately.

And the NHLPA also released a statement saying the following: “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.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at