Hours after the National Hockey League announced Dennis Wideman would receive a 20 game suspension for his encounter with an on-ice official, the players' association filed an appeal on behalf of the Flames' defenceman.

The National Hockey League Players' Association issued the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:

“We strongly disagree with the League’s decision to suspend Dennis Wideman. 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.”

Wednesday morning, the NHL suspended Calgary Flames’ defenceman Dennis Wideman for 20 games for his hit on linesman Don Henderson. Wideman, 32, came into contact with Henderson as he was returning to the bench during a game at the end of January against the Nashville Predators.

Henderson was knocked to the ice and was taken to hospital for evaluation and released.

After the game, Wideman said that the contact was 'completely unintentional'.

On Tuesday, Wideman and Flames' president Brian Burke went before the NHL's hockey operations department in Toronto to discuss the matter.

Wideman is the 12th NHL player to be suspended for physical abuse of an official in the last 15 years and was given a 20 game suspension from the league.

He was facing a 10 ten-game suspension under the league's Rule 40 however, because there was no call on the play, the league was able to suspend him under Rule 28, which covers 'any offense committed during the course of a game'.

Wideman will also forfeit $564,516.20 and the money will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

He will not be eligible to return to the Flames' lineup until March 11.

(With files from TSN.ca)