The National Hockey League announced on Thursday that defenseman for the Calgary Flames, Dennis Wideman, has been suspended pending a hearing with the league next week as a result of a cross checking incident during the Flames 2-1 home loss to the Nashville Predators that Wideman has stated was unintentional.
Wideman had just taken a big hit at the hands of Miikka Salomaki and was skating back towards the flames bench when he ran over lineman Don Henderson from behind, knocking Henderson to the ice and against the boards. Wideman did not receive a penalty during the game, and has stated that the hit was unintentional.
“I took a pretty good hit down in the corner and had some pretty good pain in my shoulder and neck,” Wideman said. “I was just trying to get off the ice and kind of keeled over. At the last second, I looked up and saw [Henderson] and couldn’t avoid it. I went up to Donnie and apologized to him on the ice.”
Widemn continued, “I didn’t see him. I didn’t know where to go and how to get out of the way. I’ve been around for a few years, and I think I’ve treated every official with the utmost respect, and I would never intentionally try to hit a linesman or a ref. It was completely unintentional, and I already apologized to him.”
Wideman apologized to both Henderson and the officials after the incident, and still maintains that it was unintentional.
The fact that Wideman is appealing the decision means that he will not have to serve the suspension until after his hearing in front of the NHL, a meeting which he will be attending in person.
Wideman, a 32 year old veteran who is in the midst of his 11th season as a player in the NHL and his 4th with the Flames, has accrued the 2nd most penalty minutes on the team with 30 thus far on season and put 2 goals in the net as a part of his 19 total points in the season.
While the 1 game suspension is unlikely to have a major effect on the Flames season if the suspension is upheld, it could potentially serve as a precedent to look at should similar instances arise.
As we wait for the hearing to occur, hockey fans can all look forward to the Leagues All Star weekend festivities, culminating with the All Star game this Sunday.