US district court upholds reduction of Wideman suspension

US district court upholds reduction of Wideman suspension

NEW YORK — A U.S. district court ruled against the NHL in the League’s effort to overturn the reduction of Dennis Wideman’s suspension by a neutral arbitrator last season.

Judge Alison Nathan sided with neutral discipline arbitrator James Oldham, who cut Wideman’s suspension for knocking linesman Don Henderson to the ice from 20 games to 10. The NHL had sought to have the 20-game ban restored.

The NHL says in a statement released Wednesday night that it disagrees with the court’s decision, but understands the standard needed to overturn the decision. The league says it is ready to turn the page.

Wideman, a defenceman for the Calgary Flames, was suspended 20 games for hitting Henderson and knocking him down during a game against the Nashville Predators on Jan. 27, 2016.

Commissioner Gary Bettman upheld that suspension, but Oldham ruled that Wideman did not intend to injure Henderson and reduced the suspension to 10 games.

Oldham was fired from the position last summer.

In its statement, the NHL says it hopes the next time there’s an appeal, the neutral discipline arbitrator will apply the standard of review it and the Players’ Association agreed to in collective bargaining, saying that was not the case with Wideman.

Nathan wrote that the NHL did not show that Oldham exceeded his authority.

Wideman served 19 games of his suspension before it was reduced to 10, giving him back a portion of the salary he lost.

Earlier this season, Anaheim Ducks centre Antoine Vermette was suspended 10 games for slashing a linesman. Bettman upheld that ban, and Vermette served it without appealing to the neutral discipline arbitrator.

The Associated Press

Canadian Press