Or so Mr. Campbell claimed when quoted by TSN. "We've all got obligations to the fans, the rights holders -- this game is being televised around the world."
Well, exactly how many people in the large USA hockey market of greater Detroit will be watching any of the All-Star festivities now with no Wings on the roster? Hope the rights holders and sponsors appreciate the next to nothing viewership they will get in Michigan with no Wings on the ice.
Besides the All-Star management flaws of idiotic ballot stuffing - and then inviting the current Norris Trophy winner, Lidstrom, and the current Selke trophy winner, Datsyuk, to fill up the reserves, (which they were willing to do before being injured), how is it possible that, at least, Datsyuk was not invited to participate in the skills competition? Why the blatant snub to not showcase his talents again to a larger audience (as he aptly did in the Winter Classic - and practically every other game he has played in this year). To add outrageous insult to the real injuries, for which the players, Wings, and fans, are being punished, the League claims they asked Hossa, Zetterberg, and Rafalski to replace their stricken teammates - but all declined as having made other arrangements.
Yeah, that makes sense to promote the game to fans. Ask the current Conn Smythe Trophy winner to be a last minute afterthought fill-in.
Those of us who are Wings fans are proud of Ken Holland for backing his players and publicly stating he will not order them to attend and come to Montreal. In other words, he knows his players are not liars, as Bettman and the NHL are implying by casting loudly proclaimed public doubt on their injuries.
But, enforcing the suspensions is just a red herring by the NHL to cover up their incompetence of not having any contingency plans in place for last minute injuries. It is absolutely unacceptable that Montreal is celebrating 100 years and all the Original Six Teams will not be represented. Injuries should have been planned for and anticipated by the NHL. Players on the same team should have been selected and named in advance so that they could have a head's up to attend if an invited player could not go. The NHL took no proper steps to insure that at least one player from the current Stanley Cup Championship would be in the starting lineup. So, in fact, it comes as no surprise that they took no proper steps to see that ANY Wings player would be on the ice if those invited were injured.
It is really too bad that the Wings management is so good that they can continue to excel despite the cap. But the NHL needs to take a much closer look at the TV ratings before continuing on this course of dissing the Wings and making an "example" of players whose reputations are beyond reproach. Hockey does fine and doesn't exactly need to be promoted for "casual" fans in Canada. There is no such thing as the casual hockey fan in Canada. However, the NHL does need to seek out fans in the US, and the Wings have consistently and statistically proved they are one of the premier teams that brings in national viewership.
The Winter Classic with Detroit Red Wings vs. Chicago Blackhawks saw 4.4 million viewers tune in.
The 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Finals with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings averaged 4.48 million viewers, a 154% increase in average viewers over the 2007 finals between Ottawa and Anaheim and a 117% increase on a household ratings basis.
It was the most viewed Stanley Cup Finals since 2002 when the Detroit Red Wings vs. Carolina Hurricanes which was viewed by 5.77 million.
Last year's All-Star game in Dallas featured a lot of Wings players and, in the Detroit area, at least, that was a big incentive for many to try and find Versus somewhere on the dial and watch the game. The viewership in 2008 was up 17% from the previous year. Of course, that isn't too hard to do with ratings as low as Versus consistently pulls for hockey. Approximately 800,000 households tuned in to the All Star game on Versus last year.
What will the numbers be this year? Hard to tell. In the Detroit area numbers are never completely accurate as many viewers can pick up the Canadian broadcasts out of Windsor and they much prefer it to the coverage offered by Versus.
But, it is highly likely the Detroit market numbers will be significantly less.
The NHL All-Star Game. It's for the Fans. Rah! Rah!