You knew somebody would take Nicklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne to task for asking out of the All-Star game. And that somebody is Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen.
We suspect [Lidstrom and Selanne] mentioned having a few nagging bumps, bruises or strains, but the fact is, every NHL player has something bothering them halfway through the season. It’s a rough, tough, game. That’s why we like it so much. If the ailments become bad enough, they stop playing and go on the injury list. All-Star Weekend shouldn’t aggravate little issues. The players’ responsibilities include some mugging for the cameras during the fantasy draft, a couple of hours to answer media questions, a light-hearted skills competition and a game of shinny to wrap things up. Players go out of their way to not hit each other. It’s not meant to be serious or strenuous and nobody should give a damn if a particular player finishes with a plus/minus rating of minus-2 or minus-5.
Translation: Would it really kill Lidstrom and Selanne to show up?
Now, criticizing two of the most liked and respected players in the game is a tough path for a columnist to travel. Might as well rip kittens (figuratively, not apart. Ripping kittens apart would be universally frowned upon.)
But while Lidstrom and Selanne have certainly participated in their share of All-Star games over their many years in the NHL, there’s something to be said for a columnist who voices an unpopular opinion to stick up for the fans. Tickets to the All-Star game aren’t cheap, and this one will already be missing Sidney Crosby.
Sure, Lidstrom and Selanne might prefer a few days off before the stretch drive, but it really wouldn’t kill them to show up in Ottawa and allow themselves to be showered with adoration. At 41, they might be old for hockey players, but they’re not exactly shuffling around in slippers and eating apple sauce for dinner.