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Flames, Wideman look to move on from suspension

After ban reduced, Burke says they 'consider the matter closed'

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

Brian Burke Press Conference

Brian Burke on the Wideman arbitration hearing result

Brian Burke talks about the Dennis Wideman arbitration hearing result

  • 08:09 •

CALGARY -- Brian Burke said Friday he wants to put the Dennis Wideman suspension behind the Calgary Flames.

Calgary's president of hockey operations also said he hopes the process, which had Wideman serve 19 games of a 20-game NHL suspension before having it reduced to 10 games by an independent arbitrator, can be improved.

"This is the first time this process has been invoked, and we respect the process," Burke said after the suspension was reduced. "However, we hope that the process gets expedited for the next player that goes through this. With regards to the arbitrator's decision, we are grateful that the finding was made that the contact was not made with any intent to injure the official involved, and we believe that's the case. We also fully support sanctions against players who may deliver contact against officials.

"Our goal is to put this behind us now. I consider the matter closed."

Wideman knocked down linesman Don Henderson during the second period of a game against the Nashville Predators on Jan. 27. On Feb. 3, Wideman was suspended 20 games by the NHL for conduct violating Rule 40 (Physical Abuse of Officials).

Wideman, who was in the lineup Friday when the Flames played the Arizona Coyotes, wished Henderson a speedy recovery, "and I hope to see him back out on the ice as soon as possible."

"As far as the ruling goes, I'm happy it was reduced to 10 games," Wideman said after the game. "I still maintain that it was completely accidental and I had no intent on hitting Donnie at all.

"As far as the process goes, I know it was a bit of a longer process. Being the first time, precedent setting, there was a lot that went into it from both the NHL and the NHLPA. I just hope that going forward, maybe the next time they can move it ... a little bit quicker."

Burke said, "It doesn't serve us any purpose being angry about anything. We've gone through a difficult process. Our player made contact with a linesman. The League dealt with it. We always assume and believe that the League has the best interest of the League in mind. We trust them completely. We believe there is integrity there. They made a conclusion. The process went to an appeal and a second appeal, and it's over. There's not much point in my ranting and raving about it. I'm sure you're all disappointed, but today is the day to close the door, in my mind."

Wideman had his suspension reduced by arbitrator James Oldham, the result of a two-day hearing held Feb. 25-26 in New York.

"We strenuously disagree with the Arbitrator's ruling and are reviewing the Opinion in detail to determine what next steps may be appropriate," the NHL said in a statement. "We will have no further comment until we have completed our review."

Wideman met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in New York on Feb. 10 to appeal the suspension assessed by NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell. Commissioner Bettman upheld the original decision, and the NHL Players' Association appealed to Oldham on Wideman's behalf.

"It has to [be] expedited for the next player that goes through this," Burke said. "But this is the first time through. I went on a bit of a rant when the Commissioner ruled on this about the delay, but having gone through it now, I think you have to respect the fact that this is unchartered waters for everybody.

"It's a new process and it's the first time that a neutral arbitrator … has been involved, and so to throw rocks at anyone about how long this took is counterproductive. I do think they need to streamline this for the next player that goes through this."

Wideman played 18:00 Friday in a 4-1 loss. The Flames have 14 games remaining.

"It's good to get a game under my belt tonight," he said. "Going forward, these will be my last comments on this and I'm just excited to get back and get playing and help the Flames win some games here."

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