MONTREAL - Detroit Red Wings veterans Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk will have to sit out a game next week as punishment for skipping all-star weekend, NHL vice-president Colin Campbell said Friday.
But Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby will be allowed to play his team's next game because he has decided to attend all-star festivities even though a knee injury will keep him out of the game. Crosby was expected to arrive in Montreal late Friday afternoon.
Campbell said the league's general managers agreed last February that a player who misses the all-star game must sit out the regular season game just before or just after it to demonstrate that he is really injured.
He said commissioner Gary Bettman pushed for the rule because too many players were skipping the all-star game without good reason in recent years.
"We've all got obligations to the fans, the rights holders - this game is being televised around the world," said Campbell. "I feel bad for Nicklas Lidstrom.
"He's been here how many years now? It's unfair that he gets caught in this web."
Detroit's next game is Tuesday night in Columbus.
The rule does not apply to players in Saturday's YoungStars game. Four of them have pulled out with injuries - Steve Mason, Milan Lucic, Nicklas Backstrom and Erik Ersberg.
NHL Players Association executive Glenn Healy said the rule is "not good for the hockey and it's not good for the fans."
Edmonton Oilers defenceman Sheldon Souray said he strongly disagrees with the rule.
"From my own experience this year, I'm honoured and happy to be here, but if things hadn't worked out so I could have my family here to enjoy it with me, that would be reason enough for me not to come here," he said. "There are things more important than coming here and sacrificing family stuff, which you do all year anyway, every season."