Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman will have his appeal for a 20-game suspension for hitting referee Don Henderson on Thursday, according to ESPN sources.
Wideman was originally suspended for 20 games by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman after knocking down Henderson in a game against the Nashville Predators. ESPN reports that the appeal will be to a third-party, and that James C. Oldham will be the likely arbitrator to hear the case. This will mark the first time that a player is appealing a suspension through a neutral arbitrator, which is an option in the collective bargaining agreement that was signed in 2013.
Wideman hit Henderson (check here for video of the hit from ESPN) after taking a check from Miikka Salomaki of the Predators. After the game, Wideman said to reporters that the hit was not intentional and that he saw Henderson "at the last second," and "couldn't avoid" the hit. Wideman was suspended for 20 games for the hit, and he appealed the decision.
Wideman claimed that he had been "concussed" from the previous hit that he took, and that he did not intentionally hit Henderson. Wideman was not called for a penalty on the play, and said that he was "distracted" after taking the hit from Salomaki. Bettman heard that defense from Wideman in his appeal of the suspension, and opted to uphold the original decision.
"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 said.
The Calgary Sun reports that Henderson has been dealing with concussion issues since the hit. Henderson underwent an MRI last week, and he also is dealing with back pain. One source told the paper regarding Henderson that he "still can't do anything because he hasn't gone two days symptom-free." The source added that "I don't think he's coming back anytime soon, if at all."
Wideman has not played in the last nine games for the Flames since the hit happened, and now he will take his appeal to a third party arbitrator this week.