Here are your Morning Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings have both pulled out of the NHL All-Star Game due to injury, replaced by Stephane Robidas and Patrick Marleau. The Chief believes Marian Hossa and Brian Rafalski were logically asked to fill-in and declined, and offers a Wings fan rant about Mr. Bettman's NHL: "Affirmation for Gary that the NHL simply doesn't need the Detroit Red Wings. Doesn't need them in the Eastern Conference where they belong. Doesn't need them in the All Star Game. Certainly the league doesn't need the Wings as a top billing in the Winter Classic. Hell, we don't even need the Wings in the Finals anymore. Were they even there last year?" [Abel To Yzerman]
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• Other all-star changes: Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne replaces Columbus Blue Jackets keeper Steve Mason in the rookie game; Chicago Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland and St. Louis Blues winger David Perron replace Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom and Boston Bruins winger Milan Lucic (noooo!) for the sophomores; and Carey Price has now gone from a questionable all-star starter to a dude playing in the sophomores game, filling in for the injured Erik Ersberg. [NHL]
• Speaking of Mason, Coach Ken Hitchcock talks about his "hockey sense" and offers up this interesting comparison: "It's like a guy like (Ales) Hemsky. He's got world-class skill, he has patience with the puck. Somebody taught him when he was really young, No offence to (Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish), but that's not MacT teaching him those skills -- I've seen his chop shop." [Sun Media]
• Just in from the Capitals, a statement from Backstrom about pulling out of the YoungStars Game: "I am grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in the YoungStars Game last year ... This year I felt like it made more sense for me to give someone else that opportunity and use this time to rest and prepare for the second half of the season with the Washington Capitals. I can assure Caps fans that I'm not injured and will be ready to go Tuesday in Boston." [Caps]
• For those hoping the NHL's general managers might consider a ban on fighting, Bob McKenzie offers this from a poll of 16 GMs: "Five general managers favour getting rid of the instigator and only two voted in favor of stronger anti-fighting measures." [TSN]
• Meanwhile, Red Wings GM Ken Holland speaks candidly about fighting, and specifically about when players are "jumped" by opponents after what appear to be clean hits. [Snapshots]
• Danny Briere: "I'm ready to play but the Flyers can't bring me up because of the salary cap." Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren: "Danny Briere still isn't feeling 100 percent." Uh-huh. [Philly.com]
• "You're going to knock what off my face, smart guy?" [Getty]
• Hockey players are, we've found, by and large conservative to moderate in their political beliefs. So it's interesting to survey the Calgary Flames locker room on Obama Inauguration Day, as Jarome Iginla speaks about seeing the first African-American U.S. President sworn in. [Calgary Herald]
• Finally, the Sarah Spain fans cried out in agony yesterday in the headlines. Here she is talking with Andrew Ladd of the Blackhawks about making a nice push. Ladd seriously ended the interview with "don't be a stranger":