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An explanation for the reason why Red Wings’ Nicklas Lidstrom, Teemu Selanne are skipping ASG

For someone who claims to not care about the All-Star Game, ESPN’s Scott Burnside joined the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren by launching into a scathing criticism of the NHL’s decision to allow Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne to skip the All-Star weekend…

I applauded commissioner Gary Bettman’s strong stance at the 2009 All-Star Game in Montreal, when Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom declined to show up for the proceedings after they’d been selected to participate. Bettman had previously told his GMs that he didn’t want guys pulling the plug after they’d been chosen and that if players were bowing out using the injury card, they wouldn’t be able to play in the first game back after the All-Star break. So, in effect, Lidstrom and Datsyuk were suspended for a game after the ’09 break. The Wings hated it and it was a tough call given the long years of dedicated service Lidstrom had put in on behalf of the Wings and the league.

Now, though, that hard stance has apparently fallen by the wayside in favor of the “wink, wink” strategy for avoiding the game. Lidstrom and Hall of Fame-bound Anaheim winger Teemu Selanne, among others, deserved to be in Ottawa and should have been there based on a host of factors, including their All-Star caliber of play this season. But sources have told ESPN.com those players let the league know they’d prefer not to go—heck, Selanne came out publicly saying he wanted a break—and so Corey Perry will go essentially on behalf of Selanne, even though Selanne, as captain, would have been a nice bookend to Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson’s captaincy of one of the All-Star teams. Lidstrom, a captain a year ago in Raleigh, is having another Norris-caliber season but won’t be in Ottawa. If you’re going to have the event, and it’s going to mean anything at all, this turn of events is a definite step back and is a slap in the face for the fans who are, after all, paying the freight. They have been cheated out of a chance to celebrate the appearance of two future Hall of Famers in perhaps their final year of play. And the absence of players such as Selanne and Lidstrom is a slap in the face to the players who will show up in Ottawa but would rather be somewhere else. Like many things, it’s all about consistency, or in the case of the All-Star Game, a lack thereof.

But we have an explanation as to why the NHL changed its stance via the Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston: Rob Blake took care of the invites on behalf of the NHL’s Hockey Operations department, and it was Blake who chose to allow Lidstrom and Selanne To go unpenalized for skipping the game:

Two other notable omissions earned a free pass from the league. Detroit Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom and Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne—a pair of 41-year-olds possibly in their final NHL season—each asked to be given some time off.

Blake was more than comfortable obliging those requests.

“There’s only a few (players) each year that have earned that right and those two guys have definitely represented the league a number of times and been outstanding players,” said Blake. “A lot goes into how they’re feeling for their run down the stretch. You obviously want them to be ready for their team especially—a guy like Nick Lidstrom is continuously in conference finals and Stanley Cup finals, the amount of games he plays. ...

“Those two guys have earned more respect from their years of service in the league.”

Update: Cue the, “Huh?” via Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon:

Of course, the respect they’ve earned is the reason fans who buy tickets to the All-Star Game want to see them. So it’s a bit of a double-edged sword for guys like Lidstrom and Selanne. They’re so well-liked that they’re constantly being pulled in opposite directions. And since they can’t be in two places at the same time, they’re bound to upset somebody and end up feeling guilty.

Meanwhile, disliked people get to stay home alone, watching TV like kings.

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Comments

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I can’t imagine that there’s a single person who will be going to see the ASG who is now pissed off that he won’t be able to see Selanne or Lidstrom.

They’re old and they’re being paid by their respective teams to wear that team’s sweater, and if either one is contemplating retirement then they owe it to their teams to be able to play their best for the rest of the season, not to play in an exhibition game.

Also, Detroit is going to the playoffs and while Anaheim is very likely not, Selanne might be going to the playoffs with another team and it’s far more important for them to be fresh for their teams’ playoff runs than it is for them to play in the ASG.

Posted by Garth on 01/19/12 at 03:22 PM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

” ... Bettman had previously told his GMs that he didn’t want guys pulling the plug after they’d been chosen and that if players were bowing out using the injury card, they wouldn’t be able to play in the first game back after the All-Star break. ... “

(emphasis mine)

“the injury card” ???

Lids and Dats played “the injury card”???
(implying that they weren’t being forthright? just being selfish? not willing to participate?)

... that’s bullpucky.

Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 01/19/12 at 03:40 PM ET

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Who cares about the All Star Game in any sport.  They are not really indicative of the game in any sport with how it is really played.  Oh wow look 14-9 hockey all star game. How thrilling….

If anything forget the games and just keep expanding the skills competions in all all star games.  That is what most fans go to see anyway.

Posted by Har1ey4 on 01/19/12 at 03:41 PM ET

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It seems to me that this is a different scenario then the 2009 scenario.  In 2009, the players were named to the team, and the decision to not play, in the case of Lidstrom and Datsyuk wasnt made until the last game before the all star break. 

Lidstrom and Selanne were not named to the team.  Who cares if they asked not to be.  There were also plenty of deserving players left off the ballot, and off the roster so that it could be stacked with home town players.  “Fans being cheated” Isnt really a reasonable argument.  There is no guarantee that any player is going to be named to the team and/or healthy enough to play. 

Also, Detroit didnt “Play the injury card” in 2009.  Both players were legitimately injured.  They were just deemed by the NHL to not be injured enough to skip the All Star weekend entirely.  Sidney Crosby was also injured, and did not play the ASG, but wasn’t suspended because he attended the all star weekend events and was available to media and fans.

Posted by jwad on 01/19/12 at 03:58 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Burnside can suck it and I say that on behalf of Selanne as well because as Friedman said the other day, it opens the door for younger players who WANT to be there for the experience and to introduce new emerging stars in the NHL.  Granted, it’s Hartnell (and one other guy) but anyone who has followed Hartnell knows very well that he’s a great ham for the cameras.  He just might be the next Jeremy Roenick.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 01/19/12 at 04:04 PM ET

SYF's avatar

PS - I think it’s absolutely GRACIOUS of Lidstrom and Selanne to allow the next generation of stars to attend this event…FOR THE GOOD OF THE GAME.

Posted by SYF from The Revenge of Johnny E on 01/19/12 at 04:06 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Why does there have to be an ASG anyway?  It’s not like it’s a well played game on any  
count and doesn’t add to the prestige of the league.  The Winter Classic has surpassed it in terms of popularity.  Most of all it’s the timing of the game.  If you want it for the fans, play it at the beginning of the season with selection based on the previous season.  It would be a good way to get the fans involved from the very beginning.

Posted by calquake on 01/19/12 at 09:30 PM ET

Wings_Fan_In_KC's avatar

Screw these fattie sports writers.

Posted by Wings_Fan_In_KC from ...somewhere southwest of The Motor City... on 01/20/12 at 02:00 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

PS - I think it’s absolutely GRACIOUS of Lidstrom and Selanne to allow the next generation of stars to attend this event…FOR THE GOOD OF THE GAME.

Posted by SYF from Dr. Ima Tearadikov’s “Office” on 01/19/12 at 02:06 PM ET

Both of these guys are going to go down in history among the greatest to ever play the game, but I somehow doubt the All-Star game is going to be greatly diminished without them.  Let the NHL’s young bloods tow the company line, Lidstrom and Selanne have more than done their bit for king and country in their careers.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 01/20/12 at 02:53 PM ET

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the all star game has turned into a joke i can remember when it was played like a real game now they are to scared about injuries i think it should be played at the end of the season so maybe it can be played like a hockey game to me it is less entertaining

Posted by gregory chervenak on 01/20/12 at 04:11 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

It’s not a real game. It never really was. It’s an exhibition game in which players of extremely high skill levels occasionally display competitiveness while enjoying playing a game that means nothing other than enjoying themselves while playing alongside a star-studded cast of players that they’re usually trying to beat the snot out of.

As what it really is, the All-Star Game’s fun to watch. If you expect anything near a real game in terms of its levels of intensity, effort, attention to detail and focus, you’re always going to be disappointed.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 01/20/12 at 06:18 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.