I don’t want to continue talking about an exhibition game I’m not going to watch but I feel the need to point out a couple more things about the whole Nicklas Lidstrom / Pavel Datsyuk skipping the All-Star Game.
One of my early complaints was that no Red Wings were selected to replace Lidstrom and Datsyuk. Sports Illustrated reports that the NHL did ask for Wings replacements. Specifically, Brian Rafalski and Marian Hossa were asked and declined, citing plans made after they found out they weren’t on the team.
Now, I still contend that the NHL could have gone down the list and also asked Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg, Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson, showing that they were trying as hard to make sure Detroit was represented as they did to represent Colorado and St. Louis. I don’t blame them too much, though so I retract my original complaint.
The more important note was pointed out in the comments at A2Y by AndrewFromAnnArbor before I had a chance to post it myself so I have to give him some credit.
The clause in the NHL standard player contract that relates to All-Star Game participation reads as follows:
2. The player agrees to give his services and to play hockey in all NHL Games, All-Star Games, International Hockey Games, and Exhibition games to the best of his ability under the direction and control of the club in accordance with the provisions hereof.
Key line there? “[U]nder the direction and control of the club.” The player’s contract is with the team, not with the league, and it is the team that decides whether or not the player will play in the All-Star Game. The Red Wings have decided that Lidstrom and Datsyuk will not play, to me the league has no place to say anything about it.
Of course, you can argue that the league isn’t penalizing the players, they’re penalizing the team. In an incredibly odd move, Lidstrom and Datsyuk won’t actually be suspended, they just won’t be allowed to play. This means that the Wings will get no cap relief from their missed game and won’t be able to call anyone up to replace them. If Brad Stuart and Johan Franzen are still injured come Tuesday, the Red Wings will have to play two men down because they don’t have the ability to call anyone up.
My opinion? If the week off means Datsyuk and Lidstrom are healed by Tuesday, the Wings should play them and force the NHL’s hand. Either suspend the players or don’t, none of this “We’re not suspending them, we’re just not allowing them to play” idiocy.