Judge Rules In Favor Of NHLPA, Confirming Arbitrator's Reduction Of Wideman Suspension
A U.S. federal court judge has ruled in favor of the NHLPA and against the NHL by confirming arbitrator James Oldham's award to reduce Flames D Dennis Wideman's suspension. The NHL last June sued the union and filed a motion in U.S. District Court in N.Y. to vacate the award by Oldham to reduce Commissioner Gary Bettman's suspension of Wideman for hitting a game official from 20 to 10 games. However, Judge Alison Nathan yesterday denied the NHLPA's motion to dismiss the case, while also denying an NHL's motion for summary judgment to vacate the award. Nathan in her decision wrote, "Whether or not this Court might reach the same decision as the Arbitrator were it presented with the same record is not relevant. Because it is at least arguable that the arbitrator applied the standard of review bargained for in the CBA, the award must be confirmed." The Wideman case was the first involving a new feature in the '13 CBA -- the right to have suspensions of more than six games appealed to a neutral arbitrator. The CBA also gave both sides the ability to fire the neutral arbitrator for any reason or no reason, and the NHL dismissed Oldham last July. Veteran arbitrator Shyam Das is the current neutral discipline arbitrator.