Flames back Wideman's appeal


The Calgary Flames are backing defenseman Dennis Wideman's appeal of his 20-game suspension.

The NHL on Wednesday suspended Wideman for 20 games for his check from behind on linesman Don Henderson on January 27.

The suspension will also cost the defenseman $564,516.13 from his 2015-16 salary, which will go to the players' association's Emergency Assistance Fund.

In a statement, the Flames said they support Wideman's appeal.

"We were informed earlier today that our player, Dennis Wideman, was suspended for contact with an official in last Wednesday's game against Nashville," the statement read.

"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 wellbeing is of extreme importance in order to allow them to perform their duties. They perform an invaluable but under-appreciated 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."

In the second period of last Wednesday's game against the Nashville Predators, Wideman got up after being knocked down and hit Henderson on the way to the bench.

Afterward, Wideman, 32, explained his actions by saying he was in pain and just trying to get off the ice, adding that he could not avoid Henderson.

The player said he apologised to Henderson after the incident.