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Crosby banned from Jets game because he missed All-Star Game

| Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, 8:00 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 2, 2015, at Consol Energy Center.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby digs the puck out of the corner against the Wild in the third period Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, at Consol Energy Center.

Coach Mike Johnston didn't even know about the policy.

Neither did right wing Craig Adams, the Penguins' NHLPA representative.

Sidney Crosby, who should be able to resume skating Tuesday and theoretically may have been recovered enough from a lower-body injury to play against the Winnipeg Jets, is banned from the game because he didn't participate in the NHL All-Star Game.

“If that was something we (NHLPA) bargained for, I missed that one,” Adams said. “My bad. I didn't know it existed.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to the Tribune-Review via email that players elected to the All-Star Game may not participate in their next regular season game, no matter the severity of the injury or when it occurred, if they don't play in the All-Star Game.

Johnston agrees with that policy — “I wasn't aware of the rule, but I do think it's fair,” he said.

But many of his players do not.

“It depends,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “If you have a guy who is banged up, but he's willing to play with an injury and wants to take the All-Star break off to make sure he's ready when his team starts playing again, I think that should be allowed.”

Many Penguins defiantly said Crosby is indeed injured and did not embellish an injury to avoid playing in the NHL All-Star Game. Crosby only has played in one All-Star Game during his career, as injuries, two Olympic breaks and a lockout have kept him from all but the 2007 game.

The only Penguins representative in Columbus, Ohio, was goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, as Crosby and center Evgeni Malkin were unable to play. Malkin isn't eligible to play Tuesday but is out at least one week with an injury.

“I think it's a fair rule if somebody pulls out of the game just to rest, just if they don't feel like going,” Fleury said. “But Sid is hurt. He can show it. He's got proof. I think it was a little much.”

The NHL became sensitive enough to players blowing off the All-Star Game that it suspended Detroit stars Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk one game — with pay — in 2009 when the duo decided against participating in the game in Montreal.

Crosby's case, his longtime linemate insisted, is a little different.

Left wing Chris Kunitz said that Crosby and Malkin represent the NHL well at every opportunity.

“I'm sure they're trying to keep the integrity of the All-Star Game by having the best players there,” Kunitz said. “Unfortunately on our side, we had players who weren't able to go. They always represent the league the best way every single time.”

Crosby is expected to skate Tuesday after having an injection to help a lower-body injury that has been plaguing him for two weeks. He is eligible to return against the Capitals in Washington on Wednesday and hasn't been ruled out of that game.

Malkin, however, won't skate for a few more days and won't play on the team's upcoming road trip to Washington and New Jersey.

The Penguins hope to have Crosby back as soon as possible, even though the league won't let them have him Tuesday.

“It's not my call,” Letang said. “The league obviously wants its best player at the All-Star Game to promote the game.”

The Penguins want their best player back, too.

“I understand what the intent is,” Adams said. “But what if you're just ready (to play) two days later? That does happen.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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