After NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld a 20-game suspension for Calgary Flames
defenseman Dennis Wideman for knocking an linesman Don Henderson to the ice during a game last month, the NHL Players Association announced Wednesday night it would appeal the decision to a neutral arbitrator.
"We are extremely disappointed but not surprised that Gary Bettman upheld the decision of his staff to suspend Dennis Wideman for 20 games," the NHLPA said in a statement. "This decision completely ignores the effects of the concussion that Dennis sustained when he was driven into the boards eight seconds before colliding with the linesman.
"We will appeal to the Neutral Discipline Arbitrator in order to have this decision overturned."
The NHL cited a violation of Rule 40 for physical abuse of officials from a game in Calgary on Jan. 27 against the Nashville Predators. Wideman cross-checked Henderson in the back while trying to get to the team's bench at 11:19 of the second period.
The Neutral Discipline Arbitrator is James C. Oldham, a law professor at Georgetown University that also worked as a salary arbitrator for Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Wideman met with Bettman on Feb. 10 during a hearing in New York as part of an appeal of the suspension handed down by NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell on Feb. 3.
Wideman, who had been suspended indefinitely before the All-Star break, met with NHL officials in Toronto at a hearing that lasted 90 minutes. Flames general manager Brad Treliving and assistant GM Craig Conroy were present at the meeting.
Wideman has served seven games of the suspension already. Based on his average annual salary, Wideman will lose $564,516.20.
Wideman, 32, played the last four seasons with the Flames. He has two goals, 17 assists and 30 penalty minutes in 48 games this season.