All-star no-shows told to show by NHL

 

The National Hockey League Players’ Association signed on for two more seasons of peaceful coexistence with the National Hockey League, but there could be a skirmish on the horizon over participation in this weekend’s all-star game.

 
 
 
 
 

MONTREAL — The National Hockey League Players’ Association signed on for two more seasons of peaceful coexistence with the National Hockey League, but there could be a skirmish on the horizon over participation in this weekend’s all-star game.

Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk, two members of the Stanley Cup-champion Detroit Red Wings, were selected by the fans as starters for the Western Conference, but they begged off, citing injuries.

The problem is they ran afoul NHL policy that states a selected player can’t skip an all-star game unless he misses the game immediately before or after an all-star game.

Lidstrom and Datsyuk were both healthy enough to be in the lineup Tuesday when the Red Wings dropped a 6-3 decision in Phoenix. Lidstrom played a game-high 26:26 and scored two goals. Datsyuk had two assists. under the terms of the NHL policy, the players must sit out the Red Wings vs. Columbus Blue Jackets game on Tuesday.

“The policy is clear, the team knew the consequences,” said Colin Campbell, the NHL’s vice-president in charge of discipline.

But NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly said he disagreed with the NHL policy that was announced by NHL commissioner last February after there were seven no-shows for the all-star game in Atlanta.

“The question we ask is: Is it good for the game and is it good for the fans?” Kelly said. “I don’t think it helps the game or the fans to have those players sit out.”

Campbell counters that it isn’t fair “to the fans who paid good money” to watch the all-star game. As for the fans who won’t see the Detroit players in Tuesday’s game, Campbell said it was similar to a Mats Sundin fan buying a ticket to see his hero play in a game and Sundin gets suspended for that match.

“It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is,” said Campbell, who noted the players weren’t being suspended.

“Suspended means they did something wrong; this is just about a policy,” Campbell said.

There’s a third player who could have been affected by the policy. Sidney Crosby is skipping the game, even though he played in Pittsburgh’s last game before the break.

Crosby gets a pass because he’s in town participating in a number of off-ice activities.

“There’s no question that he’s been injured,” Campbell said. “He missed some games before coming back. And he’s here; where are those other guys?”

Montreal Gazette

 
 
 
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