Last year, Gary Bettman told the GMs that he was laying down the law when it comes to the All-Star Game: If you're invited but say you can't come because of "injury," you have to miss either the game before or the game after the All-Star Game. This year, we have our first two "suspensions," and guess what? They're both Red Wings!
Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsuyk are both out for the Wings game against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday, ESPN and the Free Press are reporting (sidebar to NHL: I don't care how much incredible video your site has; if I can't find a simple announcement on suspensions, you need to fix it). Now, to be clear, it's not the fact that they're not playing. It's the fact that they're not going to Montreal. This is why Sidney Crosby isn't facing a suspension.
I understand that the league is trying desperately to keep the All-Star Game relevant. I think all-star games in general have lost whatever relevance they once had. But the moment you make any connection between an exhibition game and the season itself, you've lost me. Major League Baseball is still trying to convince people that there's relevance to their All-Star Game after the 2002 debacle (I was there), and I think it's stupid. This isn't quite that dumb, but it's close enough. As Ken Holland said, "I disagree with the decision, but I'm not running the league."
The sad part is that even if this does affect the Wings, you know no one in the league is even blinking twice about how bad this is. It'll take a couple other teams to get burned before this is changed.
Enjoy your little party, Gary. Those of us who give a damn about hockey will be waiting for Tuesday. You better hope the Wings walk out of Columbus with two points.