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Flames' Wideman issues statement on suspension

Defenseman says he 'did not have any intent to hit the official' @NHLdotcom

Calgary Flames forward Dennis Wideman issued a statement Thursday apologizing for his incident with a linesman during a game Jan. 27 against the Nashville Predators. 

The NHL suspended Wideman for 20 games Wednesday for conduct violative of Rule 40 (Physical Abuse of Officials).

"Firstly I want to apologize to [linesman] Donny Henderson," Wideman said. "I feel awful about what happened. Hopefully he's recovering and is going to be back on the ice soon. I feel really bad about the whole situation. The last seven days has been tough. Never in my career have I ever disrespected or done anything like this to an official. I think I've prided myself on having a great working relationship with the officials and I hope to continue that when I get out there. 
"I'm really disappointed with the decision in the length of the suspension. I did not have any intent at any time to hit the official or hurt him or anything like that. I would never do something like that. I'm pretty disappointed with the decision." 

The National Hockey League Players' Association said in a statement Wednesday that it planned to file an appeal of the suspension. 

"We strongly disagree with the League's decision to suspend Dennis Wideman," the NHLPA said. "Dennis has played in 11 NHL seasons and almost 800 games without incident. The facts, including the medical evidence presented at the hearing, clearly demonstrate that Dennis had no intention to make contact with the linesman. An appeal has been filed on the player's behalf." 

Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke also issued a statement Wednesday after the suspension was announced:   

"We were informed earlier today that our player, Dennis Wideman, was suspended for contact with an official in last Wednesday's game against Nashville. We disagree with the severity of today's suspension ruling and maintain that Dennis' collision with the linesman was unintentional and accidental. We agree that our officials' safety and well-being is of extreme importance in order to allow them to perform their duties. They perform an invaluable but underappreciated role in our game. We support sanctions against players who make deliberate contact with any official. However unintentional and accidental contact does occur at times in our game. We will have no further comment on the matter at this time."

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