Gary Bettman Upholds Dennis Wideman’s Suspension

In news that shouldn’t be overly surprising or shocking, the National Hockey League has announced that commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the 20-game suspension to Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman for his contact with linesman Don Henderson on January 27.

Wideman was originally suspended indefinitely by the league’s Department of Hockey Operations on January 28, pending a hearing, and suspended 20 games after a hearing conducted by the league’s head of Hockey Operations, Colin Campbell.

Since the suspension is still longer than the six-game threshold laid out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Wideman is able (and expected to) appeal the suspension to James Oldham, the neutral dispute arbitrator.

Wideman has already served seven games of his suspension, the reason for which is hedged in the league’s interpretation and imposition of Section 40 of the NHL Rulebook as pertains to Abuse of Officials. Tonight’s contest against the Minnesota Wild will be the eighth game Wideman has missed during his suspension.

That’s not a good look for Wideman.

Presuming Wideman and the NHLPA elect for the final round of appeals, likely there wouldn’t be a hearing convened by the neutral arbitrator until next week and based on the length of time that this appeal took, it’d be a tight timeline to get everything squared away prior to the trade deadline on February 29.

We’ll have more on this story as it develops, including (hopefully) digging into the specifics of Bettman’s 23-page report.

    • Ari Yanover

      The thing is,even if the player was your precious Savior,I would still be as adamant about the ruling. Accidental contact,NO INTENT,end of story…too bad about your homerism

      • TRAIN#97

        Homerism? it was obvious to most logical people that this was intentional. Even Spok would say so.
        It’s the logical conclusion.

        The illogical thing is that Dennis” Blindsideman” is going to waste more time by taking this to an arbitrator.

      • RedMan

        Why dont you join the rest of us and leave trainingwheels97 out of the convo? He is clearly trying to be inflamitory and ignoring him is the most powerful argument against him.

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          You can say I’m trying to stir the pot but I’m not. This was a simple case of him hitting the ref by design and him having to accept responsibility,which he is not.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            Finally a sensible comment from you!

            Totally agree. As a Flames fan I think Wideman is an idiot who crosschecked an official from behind because the prior hit on him wasn’t called! He is gutless and does not man-up to what he did. Let’s get rid of this overpaid incompetent so called d-man!!

        • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

          So Jeff are you saying that ON posters should leave you alone, because you post all kinds of crap on ON all the time? I came on this article and just said that the guy is guilty and the proof is in the pudding. ( video) it’s quite obvious what Wideman’s intent was.

          • freethe flames

            Train how much experience do you have with diagnosing concussions and head injuries that you can be so sure of it. Having dealt with them as an athletic trainer and having had my own concussions I would suggest that he was on auto pilot on his way back to the bench and only saw a blur when he reacted again on auto pilot. When you look at pictures of him on the bench his eyes are rolling around in the back of his head and that is a symptom of a head injury.

          • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

            If Wideman really had a concussion don’t you think he would be a little more remorseful than what he has shown. Just cuz he went over to the ref and said sorry doesn’t mean he is remorseful. The perception that he really doesn’t give a crap is definitely there.

          • The GREAT Walter White

            This Wideman suspension probably appears to be a big deal to you because he would be your #1 D man.

            He is on our third pairing so none of us really care….

            Having said that: In arbitration all Wideman has to do is show the video of the Canuck doing the exact same thing (to the exact same Official….) for which the Canuck got ZERO games suspension.

            Done and done…


          • The Real Slim Brodie

            WW may be the arbitrator will be shown some of these past crimes against officials for which nothing or very little was done. It is his job to determine the consistency of the NHL’s punishment history.

      • RKD

        I posted before the article mentioned the text message, maybe he doesn’t want to be here. If so why didn’t he ask for a trade yet? Didn’t know the NHL would subpoena player text messages until I heard the CBA says they can acquire documents pertaining to the case. This makes Wideman look like a bigger tool than he already is.

  • RKD

    I found BT’s comments on Wideman pretty interesting. Essentially: “we’re anxious to get word (on the appeal) because we’re in a holding pattern and it effects different things.”

    Maybe I’m optimistically reading too much into this but maybe there is some trade interest out there? Would make the re-sign Russell chatter slightly more reasonable.

    • RexLibris

      I think that is probably a fair reading of things.

      Burke pushing for a decision isn’t going to endear the Flames to the process, though.

      They’ve already run afoul of the concussion protocols and have stirred up a hornet’s nest for the league with the Official’s union.

      Arguing that you need a decision so you can figure out who to move on deadline day is, while entirely business-like, a somewhat crass way to behave towards the commissioner at this time.

  • class1div1

    Bettman is “troubled ” by Wideman not taking responsibility for his actions.

    This coming from the lawyer dodging responsibility for any lawsuits due to concussions.

    It’s obvious he doesn’t believe Wideman.s hit to the head is relevant.

  • trox

    The text published by Bettman is interesting for two reasons. First, if anything, the text is exculpatory [97train, run and get your dictionary like a good little troll] in that it is entirely consistent with wideman’s claim that the collision was unintentional and entirely inconsistent with the league’s claim that it was. Second, since it is exculpatory, bettman leaking it serves no purpose other than to smear wideman in the media.

    • RedMan

      Exculpatory refers to evidence. The text is not evidence one way or another, but an indication of what the NHL sees as Wideman’s “total failure to accept any responsibility for his actions. Indeed, although he made much at the hearing about the apologies he had already made to Mr. Henderson, the sincerity of those apologies rings somewhat hollow.” Wideman was found guilty at his first hearing. This appeal was his attempt to reduce the sentence. He has failed on both counts.

      • trox

        Evidence: “something which shows that something else exists or is true”

        The text was cited by Bettman as EVIDENCE (or proof) of Wideman’s lack of remorse. You use the word “indication”, but it’s the same thing. Moreover, the text was obtained by subpoena as part of the materials to be considered at a disciplinary tribunal. So it is also evidence in a quasi-judicial sense.

        By implication, what this text is saying is: “I didn’t do this on purpose, and this whole process is happening because of the stupid refs and stupid media”. So, assuming the text is genuine and that Wideman didn’t “plant” it knowing it would be subpoenaed, this text supports Wideman’s claim.

        The problem with the league citing it is that the whole purpose of the appeal is supposed to be to determine whether Wideman acted with intent. Bettman then takes a text that supports Wideman’s case, and cites it as evidence that Wideman feels no remorse. Here’s the problem: why would a guy who didn’t do this on purpose feel remorse?

        I think the logical (and procedural) failure here is quite clear.

    • RedMan

      He’s not in trial in a public court of law.

      He’s not innocent until proven guilty.

      The NHL could’ve made Wideman dance in a tutu as his punishment.

      Basically it’s whatever the contract between the NHL and NHLPA have that determines Wideman’s “rights”.

      • trox

        At no point did I claim that Wideman was entitled to the same due process as someone charged with a criminal offence. I simply took issue with: (1) Bettman’s completely illogical interpretation of what this text demonstrates; and (2) his decision to release it to the public with (I suspect) the principal objective of making Wideman look bad.

        And, as a matter of law, you are wrong. Wideman’s rights are not limited to what the NHL-NHLPA agreement says. The subject of private, contractually agreed disciplinary proceedings who stands to lose $500,000 is entitled to some constitutional protections as to due process. If you are interested, I’d be happy to send you some court decisions on the subject so that your next post on the subject can be an informed one.

        • RedMan

          LOL. Send ’em over kiddo. “Constitutional protection”? LOL.

          Dude, they are not in a court. Stop thinking logic has anything to do with it. It’s not even a matter of persuasion. The NHL and NHLPA have final authority on the process. That process includes stuff like an arbitrator. Yeah so if the arbitrator comes up with a decision Wideman or the NHLPA doesn’t like, you think the a court of law is going to get involved?

  • RexLibris

    Seriously? Are you fucking kidding me? That text shouldn’t even be a fucking factor. It honestl, sounds like something any frustrated player would say after being suspended for 20 games & losing over $500,000, no? Not to mention the fact that Bettman took AGES to reach a basic decision.

    This league is a fucking joke sometimes.

  • trox

    To use a private text to a teammate as a significant and notable piece of evidence against Wideman is fucking GARBAGE. Does it not sound like something any frustrated player would say after being suspended for 20 games & losing over $500,000?

    This league is a fucking joke.

  • Rockmorton65

    Can someone please tell me where the “INTENT” was/is?????
    How on earth can there be any intent when the collision was Henderson’s fault-Kerry Fraser said on record that the Linesman (Henderson) took Widemans lane away at the last second and Wideman tried to avoid it (the stutter step).

    Did Dennis go out of his way to hit Henderson-No

    Never-mind the concussion for a moment…where exactly was the intent?

    Stupid media and stupid Refs is an accurate thing to text to a friend.The entire incident is,at the very least,equally Henderson’s fault,and the Media continues to describe it as a “vicious cross-check”.Texts does not reveal anything other than frustration.

    The publishing of Widemans Texts(stupid media) is troubling to say the least …was someone murdered or was there an act of terrorism? Far to much power to invade a persons privacy at the NHL Executive level.

    /end rant

  • freethe flames

    As I say to young people all the time, think before you press send. Look at the trouble for Kane(Buffalo) for sharing his pictures. These guys are old enough to know better.

    NHPLA will appeal for him but the results will probably take another week. Who knows maybe he will get time served. I wonder if Bettman will fine Burke for his comments?

  • wot96

    The decision is what it is and if you believe in conspiracies, entirely predictable. Far more interesting to me, at least, is what impact this will have on the plans that the Flames had.

    If it were me, as a GM somewhere, I probably wouldn’t be too eager to trade for Wideman now or in the future. That text paints a pretty bleak picture of the officials and therefore a pretty big target on him and by extension any team he plays for. Now, I don’t think the refs will call him for stuff that doesn’t happen, much, but they sure as hell aren’t going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m pretty sure that a successful appeal, for any reason, will not make the officials any happier, either. I suspect he and the team(s) he plays for would be much better served if he just shut up, took some responsibility for the hit (whether or not he thinks he should), and he should choose to sit for the remainder of the suspension by not appealing.

    I think that text is not exculpatory but whether it is or it isn’t I think it genuinely devalues Wideman as an asset in the short term. I also think Wideman he should be more concerned with whether he can play ever again without worrying about the officials and I see the only way of doing that is serving the suspension he has been given, twice.

    • The Real Slim Brodie

      No way the Flames will get anything for Wideman now. He would have to be almost killed before the refs call anything a player does to him…and if he so much as sneezes the wrong way he will be serving two. Refs have long memories! Seen the repercussions already in Calgary…they went from being one of the least penalized teams in the league before the incident to being in the top 6 since the incident. Wonder what happened there?

  • Rockmorton65

    Wideman is bang on…with the show of legal force the NHL Officials Association brought to Wideman’s hearing it was clear from the beginning who was running this suspension and it wasn’t Bettman. All these years we thought Bettman was a puppet to the owners…now it is clear he is also a puppet to the Ref’s association.

    One big question I have…if Wideman’s private texts can be subpoenaed by the NHL…why was the request from Wideman’s lawyer to get all email conversations between the NHL and NHL Officials Association related to this incident turned down? So Bettman can read the player’s stuff…but noone can know about the private conversations Bettman had between himself and the NHLOA? What ya hiding Bettman.

    I say it is time the Flames show unity as a team…time to sew a #6 on your jersey and show they stand behind their fallen teammate.

    And whichever player disclosed the personal text conversation they had with Wideman to others should be on the next bus down the ECHL on a one way ticket.

    Maybe it is time the players took control of the league back. Maybe that slapshot that goes a little high and wide and breezes right by the ear of the zebra may not be so accidental.

    • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

      Ok this is getting a little crazy.
      I get the frustration as there probably was no intent. Wideman and no current players would be stupid enough to do that intentionally. After the hit you can see Wideman on the bench talking to Brodie (i think) and Brodie is like “whatcha doin there?” And Wides is like “whatcha talking about?” Personally I dont think he had a clue where he was at that moment. But that is just my opinion… we dont really know what was in Wides head. Anyone who says there was intent… well that is just opinion also and not based on fact.
      But I find your comment disturbing to say the least. These are grown men that get paid millions to play a kids game. And you think these millionaires need to take control of the league back and intentionally fire slap shots at someones head. Soneone could get killed that way. This is a kids game. Nothing is worth that. You seem a little ill in the head.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    I have a quick and simple solution to this rigmarole.

    Wideman gets two choices. First, shut up and serve the 20 games. Second, put the boxing gloves on and hop into the ring with Don’s brother and former NHL enforcer Archie Henderson. Archie was at the game when Don got exploded and he was just livid, which is unusual for him. Might have killed Wideman if he had got his paws on him that night. Despite pushing 60, Archie is still one tough mountain of a man who can still throw them. I’m pretty sure if given the choice, Wideman picks option 1 as Archie’s bombs might have Wideman out for a lot more than 20 games. Oh, the good old days when real men settled their disagreements with fists rather than shooters, shivs and solicitors.

  • #97Train/McDavidCopperfield

    I totally agree with the suspension however I also agree with that blowhard Burke. This never should have taken a week for Bettman to make a decision.

  • RKD

    A complete and utter classless move by Bettman to publicly disclose that text message. He made his point prior without having to go there.

    There was absolutely zero reason to do that. What a complete dick move.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Pat should give it a rest. He is starting to sound like a crybaby broken record. Wideman deserves it and he needs to own it. He trashed that linesman from behind. Burke is looking like a fool. What else has Burk done this year besides nothing?