by PuckStopsHere on 01/26/11 at 01:04 AM ET
Every year a few players selected for the All Star Game opt out of it. Usually this is because of injury and even in case of injury, the NHL does not take too well to it. In the last All Star Game in 2009, Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom opted out of it. They all had nagging injuries that were not serious enough to keep them out of regular NHL games, but they were better served by resting instead of travelling to and playing in an All Star Game. The NHL forced them to either attend the game and take place in the non-hockey activities (such as interviews and autographs) or face suspension and only Crosby complied. As a result, Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were effectively suspended for the following game by the league.
This year the NHL stance appears to have softened. Jarome Iginla was selected to the game and he opted out for personal reasons. His grandmother is not in good health and he is using all star break as a chance (possibly a last chance) to visit with his grandmother.
I am not arguing that Jarome Iginla should be denied the chance to see his grandmother to be forced to participate in what is essentially a promotional spectacle for the league. I am merely pointing out that people who had injury reasons to miss All Star Games in the past faced repercussions for their choices. Iginla has no injury and seems to be facing no repercussions at all. The NHL is inconsistent from year to year on how they handle players who opt out of the All Star Game. Perhaps they realize that their reaction in the 2009 game was over the top, but they have toned down their reactions from past precedent. How would they have reacted in 2009 if a healthy Jarome Iginla opted out of the game to visit his dying grandmother? It appears to be quite different from how they have reacted in 2011.
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