Calgary Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman has been suspended 20-games by the National Hockey League for knocking down linesman Don Henderson in a game in late January.
The former London Knight will forfeit $564,516.13 in salary as part of the suspension.
The incident happened in the second period of the Flames game against Nashville on January 27th. Wideman was skating towards the Flames bench after being hit when he cross-checked Henderson in the back. Henderson spent the night in hospital with concussion like symptoms.
The 32-year-old Wideman said the hit was not intentional and that he was in pain after he was hit by Nashville’s Miikka Salomaki and couldn’t avoid Henderson as he was trying to get off the ice. Wideman didn’t check on Henderson’s status after he hit him, but did skate over to where the officials were gathered and apologized during the next stoppage in play.
The NHL suspended Wideman indefinitely following the incident, Wideman flew to Toronto for an in-person meeting with the league Wednesday. The star defenceman was represented by the NHLPA and joined in Toronto by Flames general manager Brad Treliving and Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke.
Under the league’s Rule 40 (Physical Abuse of Officials), Wideman was facing a minimum 10-game suspension, regardless of intent. Wideman wasn’t penalized during the game for the hit, because of that, the league actually had more broad powers to suspend him under Rule 28 (Supplementary Discipline), which covers “any offense committed during the course of a game.”
Wideman has the right to appeal to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Wideman can also appeal to a neutral arbitrator if Bettman’s suspension is still six or more games.
The former Knight is in his fourth season with the Flames and 11th in the NHL. He has two goals, 19 points and 30 penalty minutes this season.
Barring a reduction of his suspension, Wideman won’t be able to return to Calgary’s lineup until March 11th.