Calgary Flames defender Dennis Wideman saw his suspension reduced from 20 to 10 games thanks to a ruling by neutral arbiter James Oldham. This decision comes 19 games into Wideman's suspension, so while it does little to impact his participation with Calgary it will save him a hefty amount in lost salary.
Here's the decision in full:
The Commissioner’s basic conclusion -- that Wideman’s on-ice behavior resulting in Linesman Henderson’s concussion constituted physical abuse of an official calling for Supplemental Discipline for on-ice conduct -- was correct. Also, the Commissioner’s use of League Rule 40 ("Physical Abuse of Officials") as a framework for analysis was appropriate. The Commissioner’s conclusion, however, that Wideman’s behavior constituted intentional action within the meaning of Rule 40.2, automatically triggering a penalty of not less than twenty games, is not endorsed in this appeal because, in my opinion, that conclusion is not substantially supported by the totality of the evidence presented to me at the NDA hearing. In my judgment, the proper penalty should have been that specified in League Rule 40.3. Taking into account Wideman’s eleven years of discipline-free performance as a professional hockey player, there is no occasion to go beyond the ten game minimum specified in Rule 40.3. Dennis Wideman’s penalty, therefore, should be reduced from twenty games to ten games, and it is so ordered.
If that's not enough detail for you, the entirety of the decision can be read here: OldhamOpinion.0.pdf
Here's our original post, which includes a video.
Surprising to no one, the NHL is very unhappy with Oldham's decision. Here's their statement:
"We are in receipt of Arbitrator James Oldham's Opinion in the appeal of Dennis Wideman's supplementary discipline suspension and reducing the suspension from 20 to 10 games. We strenuously disagree with the Arbitrator's ruling and are reviewing the Opinion in detail to determine what next steps may be appropriate. We will have no further comment until we have completed our review. In light of and in response to Arbitrator Oldham's Opinion, Mr. Wideman will be reinstated and will be eligible to participate in his team's games, effective immediately."
OldhamOpinion.0.pdf nd the NHLPA:
"Given that it was undisputed that Dennis suffered a concussion mere seconds prior to his collision with linesman Don Henderson, we felt strongly that there should have been no discipline. Nonetheless we are pleased that Arbitrator Oldham found that the collision was not intentional and that the suspension was reduced to 10 games. We respect the process and the decision and we look forward to Dennis returning to the ice tonight with his teammates."
What do you think? Fair?