IwoCPO andÂ George Malik have been all over this. If you haven’t already, head over to their places and start scrolling. I’ve been away from my computer for 24 hours or so, as I said I’d be Thursday. Apparently, I missed a lot of spilled ink (or pixels, whatever) while I was zipping around north of Cadillac on a snowmobile.
My take: I feel the NHL has reached a new low of stupidity. How does it make sense to punish two of the biggest names in the game for not promoting the sport at what amounts to an expo with a game of shinny thrown in as entertainment by suspending them from an actual meaningful game? I mean, if it’s bad that they’re not in Montral gladhanding with sponsors and one or two fans, isn’t it also bad promotion for them to sit out of a game in a smaller market like Columbus?
This is like a rotten child ruining the neighborhood kids’ fun, worthwhile game because they wouldn’t come play his stupid, worthless one.
I’ve read that this “policy” was instituted prior to the season. If so, why wasn’t the League more up front about it? And why isn’t the anonymous Wing asked to replace Datsyuk or Lidstrom being suspended too? I assume his presence would have been helpful from a marketing standpoint. Why not just throw the book at the whole team for not sending a representative?
I understand the premise behind wanting the best of the best at the marketing gala that is the All Star Game. This is the League most in need of a positive media spin, after all, and this is a business.Â But in taking this stance, the NHL comes across as a league that hammers its players for being team and family men first. The NHL just spat on one of its biggest off-ice assets: players fans can relate to in a way they never could Terrell Owens or his ilk.
This isn’t Nick and Pavel flipping the NHL the bird (though you wouldn’t think so from some of the columns on this by hockey “experts” I’ve seen). It’s about them having priorities that differ from a League office in New York that is showing itself to be as far away from the realities of an 82-game season as the Islanders are from the Cup.
Lidstrom has played so much TOI over the course of his career that it boggles the mind. The man has missed Â just 30 meaningful games in 17 years and has appeared in 1,296 regular season games plus 214 playoff. Surely he can beg off one All Star Game and not be expected to show up in a suit instead.
Datsyuk has been in the League fewer years, but has a young family he hadn’t seen in two weeks. The man left the game Tuesday night with an actual injury, one that requires rest for recovery. Spending the weekend on his feet shaking hands and palling around with sponsors does not seem like the right prescription.
So Lidstrom and Datsyuk put their bodies, their families, and their team first? What athlete worth his salt wouldn’t?
Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom are two of the classiest guys in all of sport. Now they have a suspension on their record. Gary Bettman and whoever else had a hand in this should be utterly ashamed.
And if anyone had any doubts about Bettman’s leadership, they should now. What kind of “boss” does this to an “employee” that’s done nothing but be a model worker while piling up revenue at a pace outstripped by virtually no one else? Like it or not, those of you outside of Hockeytown, the Wings are the model franchise in the NHL and the League’s treatment of them here is absurd.
If I didn’t also have such a low opinion of the owners who keep the man installed as commissioner, I’d think they’d have to be upset about this too. For example, the Jackets’ owner ought to be asking himself what effect this might have on the attendance in Columbus Tuesday. For those keeping score at home, that’s two fewer marquee players the home crowd will see that night, which may be a good thing for the Jackets players, but doesn’t do much for those folks who just want to see the best the game has to offer.
Oh, and can we coin this “The Suspension” and load its meaning with all the anti-Bettman rage we’ve all built up over the years? This is the culmination of all that, for me.
To end on a positive note, this means one more day off for those two, which we can hope means one more game in the tank for May and June.
Okay, I can’t end on a positive note. The Commissioner and Co. are idiots. Idiot-coated idiots with idiot filling (with apologies to Scrubs and The Great John C. McGinley).