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.
NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Detroit Red Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can stream the game online here.
The Lightning made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, but their journey almost ended in the first round at the hands of the Red Wings. Detroit shutout Tampa Bay twice in that series and the two squads were locked in a scoreless tie until the third period of Game 7.
Despite the fact that the Red Wings were a mere hair away from advancing instead of Tampa Bay, the Lightning are often mentioned as serious Cup contenders while Detroit is typically regarded as a good, but not amazing team. However, that gap isn’t entirely unjustified.
After all, Tampa Bay has a very effective core of forwards that features Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. If the highly regarded Jonathan Drouin, 20, is able to build off of his strong start to the 2015-16 campaign then the Lightning’s offense could be even more dangerous this season.
Detroit certainly has some offensive star power too in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but the duo is 35 and 37 years old respectively. On top of that, injuries have been a recurring issue for Datsyuk, who isn’t expected to make his season debut until November after undergoing ankle surgery.
As good as those two forwards still are, the Red Wings have to hope that their younger players will be able to lead the charge sooner rather than later. The good news is that 19-year-old Dylan Larkin‘s campaign is off to a strong start with three points in two games while 23-year-old Teemu Pulkkinen scored twice on Saturday.
The Red Wings have opened the season with back-to-back wins against Toronto and Carolina, but tonight’s game represents their biggest test to date. Meanwhile, the Lightning are similarly undefeated after three games, but this contest will be particularly trying for them given that it’s their third game in four days.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Although Connor McDavid‘s NHL career has only just gotten started, is he already the league’s most important player? (Sportsnet)
While we’re on the subject of McDavid, what should we expect from him for the remainder of his rookie campaign? (NHL Numbers)
Jack Jablonski was paralyzed on Dec. 30, 2011 at the age of 16 while playing high school hockey, but that hasn’t ended his pursuit of a career in hockey. He’s spent the last two years hosting a weekly hockey-talk radio program and has now joined the Los Angeles Kings as a communications intern. (Orange County Register)
Arizona State has earned its first NCAA victory. (Arizona Republic)
The 2015 Calder Cup champion Manchester Monarchs got their rings. (LA Kings Insider)
The Anaheim Ducks and the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave 13-year-old Kai Quinonez, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia four years ago, a tremendous experience. (Orange County Register)