So Detroit Red Wings stars Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk are missing out on the All-Star Game in Montreal because they’re injured.
Some writers around the league are questioning exactly how hurt they are considering they both played in Detroit’s last game before the break. Fair enough question I’m sure, but then again, the NHL hasn’t gone so far as to make the All-Star Game falsely an exhibition by making it count for something, anything, that would necessitate the best and the brightest be there whether they’re injured a little bit or not.
Suffice it to say, the All Star Break allows a lot of players time to rest up, heal up and get ready for the second half of the season as well as the playoffs. You know, since the ultimate goal of the NHL season is to win the Stanley Cup and all, sometimes professionals like to be…professional and make sure their obligations to the team are met and that no one goes and does something profound and silly like getting hurt in a highly publicized exhibition.
Leave it to Gary Bettman to get whimpery and whiny when the big stars would rather tend to business be it with their team or their family. After all, Herr Bettman’s mid-season soireè is now mandated from on high to make an appearance at even if you’re not going to play.
NHL (Lack of) Disciplinarian Colin Campbell breaks it down:
”We’ve all got obligations to the fans, the rights holders – this game is being televised around the world,” Campbell said.
Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk will have to sit out a game next week as punishment for skipping this weekends event. Neither player will lose salary.
”I feel bad for Nicklas Lidstrom,” said Campbell. ”He’s been here how many years now? It’s unfair that he gets caught in this web.”
You know, it’s not so much a web – it’s a couple of guys who are nicked up that would rather sit at home. These weren’t All-Stars elected by the fans ,which if you’re skipping out on a fan-elected spot, fine – take the heat and chew on a suspension – the game is about the fans after all.
But they weren’t – they’re reserves and whether you agree with how that came about is another story (thanks to the fans in Chicago and Anaheim for this one). Fact is, the starters are the ones who are deemed most important, they’re the ones who are burdened with having to put on the super pretty face for the fans. Reserves? Meh – everyone gets one of those.
What’s been amazing surrounding all this hoopla is how talk and conspiracy theories have blown up over at a favored Red Wings spot, Abel to Yzerman.
The Chief is normally ornery with Gary Bettman (a trait that is enjoyed quite a bit here) and the true colors are out in full effect, and one thing he makes note of here is that this occurred last year too and under even more suspicious circumstances for the league to be able to hand down a suspension but deciding not to.
From last January:
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur has pulled out of the Sunday’s NHL’s All-Star Game in Atlanta to deal with family matters. Brodeur said he informed Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello of his decision about a week ago, but it was not announced by the NHL until today. Brodeur will be replaced by Boston goaltender Tim Thomas.
“It’s a tough decision,” Brodeur said. “I’ve got some stuff going on with the family back home, so it’s something I just wanted to make sure I was here to take care of. It’s definitely a tough one. It’s such a great weekend to miss. That’s why I waited so long. I tried to avoid making that decision, but I think it’s for the best.”
That’s fine, I won’t take issue with “family matters” even if that means going home to boink your sister-in-law.
What, too soon?
Meanwhile, Puck Daddy makes sure to mention that seven players backed out of last year’s All Star Game in Atlanta for any number of reasons, including injury. Of course, they weren’t suspended because players were apparently allowed to be taken at their word last season.
As for Detroit this time around? Well, suffice to say, Ken Holland isn’t very happy – this from the National Post.
“I’m not going to call Nick and tell him he’s got to go to Montreal to sit and talk with the media for a day,” said a fiery Holland, who is upset with the NHL’s treatment of Lidstrom on this issue.
“Imagine me calling Nick, a six-time Norris Trophy winner, four-time Stanley Cup winner and someone who has gone to the last 10 all-star games and telling him he can’t spend the time with his four boys and wife.
“I have too much respect for Nick because I know he’s playing in pain. He’s shown up at every NHL Awards show he’s been nominated for. He’s done everything the league has asked him to do.
“He’s put in his time and he’s paid his dues. I’m backing my player because I know he’s hurt.”
In other words, Gary:
I got your two All Stars right here Gary!
If you think Holland let things go after that, you’re fooling yourself and he took things a step further in reminding Bettman who swings the big stick.
“I don’t know exactly what Gary has said, but we’ve always encouraged our players to go and they have over the years,” Holland said. “We played in the Winter Classic when asked even though there was some internal opposition. We gave up our traditional New Year’s Eve game.
“We’ve helped carry the flag for the league for more than a decade. I think we’ve tried to be good partners in these things.
“I understand the All-Star Game is important, but I’m not going to tell Nick and Pavel to go either.”
It’s clear that the Red Wings even before the Salary Cap Era began had a contentious relationship with the Commissioner’s Office. Herr Bettman didn’t care for the Red Wings spending as much money as they did and neither did Gary’s poor buddy owners. They shut down the league for a year, get the salary cap they want only to discover the Red Wings are also a brilliant scouting team and can grown their own talent.
The Ilitch Family and Ken Holland have been teaming up to give Bettman the finger for years now and Gary hates every bit of it because the Red Wings keeping getting in the way of his grand schemes of doing what he thought David Stern did with the NBA. Stern got lucky in riding the coattails of Magic and Bird and then having Michael Jordan fall in his lap to take over the world.
Gary saw the same thing with Sidney Crosby and still does. He sees the same kind of thing with the Blackhawks now with super talents Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. He sees all these NBA-like stars in his eyes and the Red Wings keep slapping him into reality and Bettman is too much of a Napoleonic pantywaste to deal with it.
His actions against Lidstrom and Datsyuk do have an awful and disgusting precedence (see Brodeur last year) but that doesn’t make it right. If a guy’s hurt, let them stay home. Major League Baseball doesn’t make their injured guys show up if they don’t want and their game means something.
Then again, expecting Gary Bettman to not be petty and to somehow find a way to make a joke out of All-Star Weekend, you know when a joke of a game gets played in the first place, seemed like things even he couldn’t do. Everything this guy does turns to crap – leaving well enough alone wasn’t good enough and it never will be because either he’s the dumbest executive on earth or he’s got the world’s worst consulting firm giving him really bad ideas.