NHL All-Star Absentee Suspension: Warranted or Bettman's Arrogance?

Heather ParryCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2009

The NHL All-Star weekend seems to have been the most controversial weekend of the season, and most people's gripe with the '09 All-Star Game has been the players involved.

My gripe, however, is with how they're dealing with players who aren't involved.

Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL and general cock-up artist, has presumably tired of having his enormous ego dented by individuals who don't want to be involved in the weekend's proceedings.

Thus, Bettman has implemented a new rule that players who miss the All-Star game but played in the game before it are to be suspended from their team's next game.

Now, don't get me wrong; I love the All-Star Game as much as the next guy.

I tremble with anticipation when Ovechkin takes the ice in the skills competition, and seeing the league's best take on the league's...Other best is never going to be dull.

However, I can see the game for what it is—a money-making gimmick.

With tickets fetching around $700 on the Internet and more media coverage than you might think possible, Bettman is, of course, going to want to put on the best show he can. It's "for the fans," after all.

Yet, I can't help but think that if a player doesn't want to risk injury, or worsen an existing injury, playing in a game that is seemlingly not important, then that's more than understandable.

If you're a professional sportsman with his team's best interests at heart, then of course you're not going to put yourself through the stress of travelling to Montreal, dealing with all the press, coming up with some impressive moves for the contests and wowing the crowds in the final game if your heart really isn't in it.

If you're a husband and father with a young family whom you have to leave at home on a regular basis, then you should want to take advantage of some time with them mid-season.

If you're a nine-year All-Star veteran who's a key player on his team, and not as young as you used to be, surely a spare weekend should be spent resting up and re-energizing.

My point is this: There are more important things in life, and in sports, than the NHL All-Star game.

Mr Bettman, though, doesn't seem to share this view.

He claims that fans should be able to see all the stars, but how do you define 'star' in a way that only includes a small percentage of NHL players?

And does losing a couple of picks really bring the game down that much?

Though he claims to be acting in the interests of the fans and the game, Bettman should realize that for some players, missing the All-Star game is the better choice.

His highness, however, doesn't like to be disobeyed, and every time his judgement is questioned his ego takes it personally.

With that in mind, here's what I think really needs to be changed in the All-Star game—Bettman needs to stop taking it so damned seriously

It's just a game, Gary. Just a game.