It has been quite a week.
As all frequent KK readers are undoubtedly aware, there’s been a bit of a debate as to whether or not the league is justified in “suspending” Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk for one game as a punishment for the players absence from the All-Star Weekend festivities.
I’m a die-hard Red Wings fan. Plain and simple. For that reason, I don’t think I need to go into details about my opinion on the “suspensions”. I feel that forcing Lidstrom and Datsyuk to miss a game does nothing more than punish thousands of fans that have paid good money to see meaningful, regular season NHL hockey.
A number of my fellow Wings fans are calling for Ken Holland/Mike Babcock/Red Wings brass to do something drastic to prove a point. For instance, some people feel Holland should call up players to replace Lidstrom and Datsyuk, even if it puts the team over the cap. Others think that Babcock should instruct Lidstrom and Datsyuk to dress and simply defy the suspension. And more think that the club should just forfeit the game on principal alone.
I won’t bore you with my reasons why I think all these methods are wrong—because they don’t matter.
What matters is this—the Detroit Red Wings—from the Ilitch family, to Jimmy Devellano, to Ken Holland, Steve Yzerman, and Jim Nill, all the way down to Mike Babcock and his players on the pro roster, even down to the Grand Rapids Griffins and their stable of prospects and coaches that work hard to feed the big club with NHL-ready talent—every last one of these people is total class.
Ken Holland will undoubtedly stand up for his players, as he already did by telling them to stay home and just take the “suspensions”. In the face of criticism, he will never ally with any side or opinion other than that which is best for these two players and this organization.
But one other thing you can take to the bank is that Ken Holland, Mr. Ilitch, and company, will most certainly not undercut the league. Because they never have and never will stoop to the level the NHL operates at. They are above that. All of them. Every last person involved in this team is above it. Detroit will take the high road—Lidstrom and Datsyuk will sit, the team will play short a man, and every player that’s on the bench tonight will play harder to make up for it, and they’ll be proud win or lose.
When the inept owners and management groups of teams in non-hockey markets wouldn’t start a season without a cap and revenue sharing, did Mike Ilitch go crying to the press about it? Did Ken Holland whine about how it wasn’t fair that he’d have to curtail his spending toward building a winning club in order to subsidize teams with trash in the front office and trash on the ice? As the 2009 offseason rapidly approaches, has Ken Holland complained that the cap system is likely to force him to lose home-grown talent that his ace scouts worked their asses of to find? And has he started a shit-storm over the fact that the CBA doesn’t allow restructuring of contracts, despite the fact that the likes of Kris Draper and Nick Lidstrom would probably take a little less if it helps bring back that home-grown talent for ‘09-‘10? No. No. No. And no. Instead he took the situation he was presented with, and built another Cup champion out of it.
The point? The Red Wings do it right. And when the dust settles from this entire ASG situation, all that will be left is the Detroit Red Wings organization, having taken the high road one more time. Doing the selfless thing in the face of ignorant decision-making.