Good for the NHL for lowering the boom on Nicklas Lidstrom and the Detroit Red Wings. At least it shows the league has a modicum of respect for its fans.
Lidstrom? Well, perhaps not so much. Lidstrom is apparently “injured” with a tendon problem in his elbow, however, the injury wasn’t severe enough to keep him from scoring two goals in a game against the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday night.
It did, however, give him an excuse to beg off the All-Star Game. Pavel Datsyuk, who left the same game in the third period with a hip pointer, also isn’t here for the festivities.
All of which prompted the NHL to announce that neither Lidstrom nor Datsyuk will be playing Tuesday night when the Red Wings visit the Columbus Blue Jackets. And it’s not as though the players or the Red Wings didn’t see this coming. The rule to take the action was passed at the GMs meetings last February and both players were well aware of what would happen.
Datsyuk could probably make a case for being legitimately injured, since he left the game Tuesday night. Although Lidstrom has been bothered by his elbow injury all year, I defy anyone to name me one player in the All-Star Game that isn’t playing through one kind of nagging injury or another.
What would concern me more as a Wings/NHL fan is that both Lidstrom and Datsyuk skipped the event knowing they would have to sit out a game after the all-star break.
I can’t imagine the fans in Columbus, who paid for a ticket thinking they’d have a chance to see the reigning Norris Trophy winner and one of the most electrifying players in the NHL, are pleased with the news. Even though it gives the Blue Jackets a much better chance of winning that game, those people will be denied that opportunity.
And the Red Wings are just five points behind the San Jose Sharks for first place in the Western Conference. What if they lose Tuesday night in Columbus, then finish a point behind the Sharks and face them in Game 7 of the Western Conference final?
I can’t imagine the Red Wings will be too thrilled with Lidstrom’s and Datsyuk’s decision then.
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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