Yesterday the Southern District of New York confirmed a neutral arbitrator’s decision to reduce Dennis Wideman’s suspension from 20 games to 10 games. Wideman incurred the suspension after striking a referee during a game late last season (video link). Unless the NHL decides to appeal—which is unlikely given the ruling—this ends the Wideman disciplinary issue between the NHL and NHLPA.
The controversy centered on whether Rule 40.2 (intent to injure an official) or 40.3 (no intent to injure an official) applies. The NHL initially suspended Wideman 20 games under Rule 40.2. Rule 40.2 states that any player who deliberately strikes an official and causes injury, or deliberately applies physical force with intent to injure shall be suspended no less than 20 games. The rule defines intent to injure as any physical force that a player knew or should have known could reasonably be expected to cause injury. The NHLPA argued that 40.3 applied instead, which carries a lesser minimum suspension of 10 games. The NHLPA argued that Wideman’s concussion sustained just prior to hitting the official made him unable to comprehend the situation enough to satisfy intent to injure.