AWOL Wings pay price

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:36 PM ET

MONTREAL -- Playing hooky is going to cost some NHL all-stars some hockey.

While NHL commissioner Gary Bettman decided not to punish Penguins star Sidney Crosby because he agreed to spend the weekend here, the Red Wings have been told veteran defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom and centre Pavel Datsyuk won't be allowed to play in Detroit's home game Tuesday against the Blue Jackets.

The NHL adopted a rule last February that says players who skip the all-star game must demonstrate they are really injured by sitting out either the game just before or just after the all-star break.

After missing two games with a knee injury, Crosby returned to Pittsburgh's lineup for the last game before the break.

Crosby didn't plan on showing up in Montreal until today, but a talk with Bettman about the new rule changed his mind.

"It's not something I was totally aware of, but it's fine and I'm happy to be here," said Crosby, who won't play tomorrow.

In the NHL's eyes, Lidstrom and Datsyuk, both of whom played in Detroit's last game, are skipping the game.

NHL VP Colin Campbell said Bettman pushed for the rule because too many players were skipping the all-star game without good reason in recent years (last season, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur sat out).

"We've all got obligations, to the fans, the rights holders, and this game is being televised around the world," Campbell said yesterday. "I feel bad for Nicklas Lidstrom. He's been here how many years? It's unfair that he gets caught in this web."

The decision didn't sit well with the NHLPA.

"To have Nick Lidstrom sit out a game is not good for hockey and not good for the fans," said Glenn Healy, the NHLPA's director of player affairs. "You are healthy when you get to training camp. These guys will tell you, you're not healthy after that."

NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly said Lidstrom and Datsyuk are out because of injuries and shouldn't be punished.

"While we generally support the all-star game, we do believe there are legitimate reasons why guys do miss the game," said Kelly. "You take a guy like Nick Lidstrom and he has participated in about 12 all-star games. He's been in the game a long time and he gets banged up.

"To penalize a guy like Lidstrom and force him to miss a game because he's banged up, I'm not so sure we're going to agree with that."

Crosby, who was told by doctors to take five days off in order to rest his knee, said he agreed with the NHL's stand on getting the best players to the game.

"For an event like the all-star game, it's important to get everybody involved and have everybody on board, especially the players," said Crosby. "I don't see anything wrong with that as long as everybody is aware of the situation. That's something they'll have to deal with."

Chicago star Patrick Kane said the punishment is harsh.

"It's tough to fault a guy for not coming," said Kane. "Even if I had an injury, I would have come, just to be a part of it."

Detroit GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com Lidstrom has been dealing with tendinitis in his knee.

"I disagree with the decision, but I'm not running the league," said Holland.


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