Babcock on Lidstrom skipping All-Star Game: “There was no fooling around. It was done up front”

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Three years after Nicklas Lidstrom was suspended for bailing on the NHL All-Star Game, Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock praised the league for letting his captain pass on this year’s festivities.

“At 41 years of age and with seven Norris trophies and going to the all-star game every year, I think if [Lidstrom] needs four days off, the National Hockey League respects that,” Babcock told the Canadian Press. “There was no fooling around. It was done up front. He deserves the time off.”

In 2009, Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were suspended one game after not attending the All-Star Game in Montreal. Their decisions broke a policy stating injured All-Stars must have missed at least the last game before the All-Star break in order to be excused; otherwise, they must sit out the first regular-season game after the break.

Lidstrom and Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne got around the rule this year because they weren’t named to the team and, ergo, didn’t turn down an invite. (Both asked not to be considered.)

That said, the veterans really should’ve been locks for the ASG — Lidstrom is ninth in defenseman scoring and fourth in plus-minus while Selanne leads the Ducks in scoring (45 points in 48 games), 18th overall in the NHL.

In related news, Wings GM Ken Holland said Lidstrom is a game-time decision for tonight’s affair against Montreal. The veteran defenseman is dealing with the flu.