ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that Bettman’s decision will impact where Wideman’s appeal goes. Should Bettman not reduce the suspension to less than six games, Wideman will have the right to having his appeal heard by a neutral party. According to Lebrun, the neutral party would be James Oldham, who has operated in the role of neutral arbitrator since 2004.
Wideman’s hit on Henderson came shortly after he had taken a jolt from Miikka Salomaki in the corner, and Wideman told reporters that he was in pain as he was skating off the ice. He added the hit on Henderson was unintentional, telling the Calgary Herald that he would “never intentionally try to hit a linesman or a ref.”
“I just saw him at the last second,” Wideman told the Calgary Herald’s Scott Cruickshank. “I was going to try to go (along) the boards and he kind of moved towards the boards a little bit. I was kind of stuck in the trolley tracks there. It was an accident. I feel really bad about it. After, I knew he fell. I didn’t realize how hard he went down.”
In their decision, the NHL noted Wideman was diagnosed with a concussion post-game, meaning he may have been concussed when he hit Henderson. However, the league said that doesn’t excuse Wideman’s actions.
Wideman has since apologized to Henderson, who went to hospital following the game and underwent concussion protocol.
Jared Clinton thehockeynews.com