Lidstrom, Datsyuk to sit one game

Updated: January 23, 2009, 7:59 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

MONTREAL -- The NHL will force erstwhile All-Stars Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom to miss the Detroit Red Wings' first game after the All-Star break for failing to attend this weekend's festivities.

Lidstrom
Lidstrom

Pavel Datsyuk

Datsyuk

The pair will miss the Red Wings' regular-season game against the Columbus Blue Jackets under a policy established last year, Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice president of hockey operations, said Friday.

Sidney Crosby, on the other hand, will not miss the Pittsburgh Penguins' next game because he was in attendance in Montreal, even though it was announced Thursday he would not take part in on-ice activities during All-Star Weekend as he rests an injured left knee.

Campbell said he felt bad for Lidstrom, who has played in 10 All-Star Games and often brings his family to the event.

"Unfortunately he's caught up in this," Campbell said.

But, the league's top disciplinarian said, players who are voted or named to All-Star rosters have an obligation to attend if they aren't injured.

Detroit GM Ken Holland said Lidstrom, 38, has been dealing with tendinitis for a number of seasons and wanted to use the All-Star break to try to get into a position where he can play pain-free down the stretch. Holland knew there was the potential for Lidstrom to miss a game after the break, but didn't pressure his star defenseman to play.

"Nik Lidstrom has been an incredible ambassador for our team and for our game. I respect his decision," Holland told ESPN.com on Friday.

Holland was less enthusiastic about the policy that will sit his star defenseman for a game. "I disagree with the decision, but I'm not running the league," he said.

Tuesday's game is looming as a difficult outing for the Central Division-leading Wings, as Holland said they might be without defenseman Brad Stuart and forward Johan Franzen as well.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman imposed the policy, established at last year's general managers meetings, to legitimize injury claims and improve All-Star Weekend attendance. The policy states All-Stars who are injured must have missed at least the last game before the All-Star break in order to be excused; otherwise, they must sit out the first regular-season game after the break.

Crosby, who received a record 1.7 million fan votes, had no problem with the league's policy.

"That's their decision," Crosby said. "It's up to the player, up to the team to keep that in mind. For the All-Star game, it's important to get everyone involved in it and on board especially from the players. I don't see anything wrong with that as long as everyone is aware of the situation.

"My plan was to come here from the moment that I decided that I wasn't going to play due to injury."

Former NHL goalie Glenn Healy, now director of player affairs for the NHLPA, disagrees with the league's stance on the issue. He said the league needs to look at the big picture.

"It's not good for hockey and it's not good for the fans," if Lidstrom and Datsyuk are held out of play, Healy said.

Players in Montreal on Friday were hesitant to question those who were missing, even those dealing with their own aches and pains.

"The only guys who can answer that are the guys that are hurt," said New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, a first-time All-Star. "It's easy for other guys to say he's not hurt enough. I can only say I am really excited to be here.

"This is the All-Star game. Obviously you want the star players to play, but if they're hurt, they're hurt. There is nothing you can do about it. I don't think anybody else should comment."

"You want to have the best players here, and hopefully everyone has that feeling, as well," said Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal, a three-time All-Star. "I enjoy being here. I love being a part of it. To be named is an honor and it's something that I will continue to keep coming to if they ask."

Players invited to the YoungStars competition are still exempt from the policy, and several have bowed out of the event, including Columbus goalie Steve Mason and Washington center Nicklas Backstrom.

Campbell said the attendance policy eventually may be extended to cover the YoungStars as well.

Scott Burnside is a senior NHL writer for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story.