Jonathan Toews out of the All-Star Game, Evgeni Kuznetsov and James Neal are in, Dennis Wideman suspended and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

Latest NHL All-Star Headlines.

Illness forces Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews from the NHL All-Star Game.

Illness forces Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews from the NHL All-Star Game.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: An illness will prevent Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews from attending the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday in Nashville. As a result, Toews will be suspended for one NHL game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s yet another reason why the NHL All-Star Game is a stupid, pointless waste of time. A player who is legitimately ill, like Toews, or nursing a nagging injury, like Washington Capitals left wing Alexander Ovechkin, gets penalized one NHL game because they’re too sick or hurt to attend. If Toews or Ovechkin were selected and simply didn’t want to go, that’s one thing, but it’s ridiculous to punish that player because of an illness or injury. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders captain John Tavares will replace Ovechkin as captain of the Metropolitan Division.

GLOBAL NEWS: Winnipeg Jets winger Blake Wheeler declined an invitation to attend the NHL All-Star game as a replacement for Toews. Wheeler offered no comment.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Probably because Wheeler already has other plans, which would’ve cost him money to break. 

TSN.CA: Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nashville Predators winger James Neal have been added to the All-Star game as replacements for those who cannot attend.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No disrespect to Kuznetsov and Neal, but one of those replacements should’ve been someone from the Arizona Coyotes, who have no one from their active roster representing them at the All-Star Game. Perhaps, like Wheeler,  no one from the Coyotes was willing to go? John Scott, who was selected by fan voting, is no longer with the club.  And speaking of Scott…

ESPN.COM: Former Arizona Coyotes enforcer John Scott said the league tried to talk him out of attending the All-Star Game. “According to Scott, someone with the NHL asked him: “Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I still think it’s ridiculous that Scott, whose only claim to NHL fame is his pugilistic skills, was voted into the All-Star game as a prank by the fans. Scott acknowledged the joke, knows he doesn’t have all-star skills, even tried to discourage the fans from voting him into the game. But when he decided to go, he was treated shabbily by Coyotes management and league headquarters.

Reading his story, including the suspicious trade that sent him to Montreal (and the Habs farm team in St. John’s for the rest of the season), only reinforces my belief that the league’s brain trust is at fault for this mess. Given the change in the NHL game, this season was probably going to be Scott’s last one as an NHL player anyway. The All-Star Game is probably the last NHL game we’ll ever see him play in. I hope he enjoys the weekend. After the way he was treated, he’s earned it. 

Other NHL Headlines.

CALGARY HERALD: Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman was suspended indefinitely pending a hearing on Tuesday with NHL headquarters following his hit on linesman Don Henderson during a recent game against the Nashville Predators. Wideman maintains it was accidental, though the video makes it appear he crosschecked Henderson from behind.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: P.K. Subban and the Montreal Canadiens were the top topics on Twitter among NHL fans at the midpoint of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s understandable. Subban’s is arguably the NHL’s most personable and charismatic star, while the Canadiens plunge in the standings has been cause for consternation among Habs fans and plenty of yuks for Habs haters.

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen begins the first of a three-part series examining the past, present and future of Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff’s done a good job drafting young talent. He rarely makes trades, though last year’s deal shipping Evander Kane to Buffalo was a rare in-season multiplayer blockbuster. He’s had the Jets stocked with talent, but they lack suitable coaching to mould this club into a winner, plus their veteran leadership leaves something to be desired. That’s my take, let me know yours.