Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau thinks it’s “ridiculous” and “wrong” that the NHL is allowing Seth Jones to suit up Tuesday night after the Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman missed this past weekend’s NHL All-Star Game with an illness.
If a player selected to the All-Star Game misses the festivities, the league typically forces that player to miss the regular-season game either preceding or following all-star weekend. The rule is in place to deter stars from skipping the event. According to Wild beat reporter Michael Russo, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league made the decision that Jones shouldn’t participate in the all-star game to avoid a potential outbreak of the illness he was battling.
“I don’t know how it can be justified,” Boudreau told reporters in Ohio on Tuesday morning. “The rule states that if you miss the all-star game—no matter what the reason—you miss the next game or you missed the previous game. He should be missing this game. It’s cut and dry to me.”
Boudreau then referenced a situation two years ago when the league forced Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews to sit out his team’s first game following the all-star break after he missed the event as he recovered from an illness.
“Now, to me, there’s a grey area in this rule forever and ever because unless they get written doctors reports from everybody now, it’s hard to say, ‘OK, he’s going to have to miss a game,’ if Seth doesn’t miss this game,” Boudreau added.
The league informed the Blue Jackets on Jan. 26 that Jones would not have to sit out Tuesday’s game against the Wild, per Blue Jackets beat reporter Aaron Portzline.
Jones was replaced on the Metropolitan Division team by his Blue Jackets teammate Zachary Werenski.
Boudreau being miffed about having to game plan for Jones shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Wild are battling for their playoff lives, so the importance of every point is magnified down the stretch, and Jones is one of the top young blueliners in the game. The 23-year-old is ninth in points and 13th in ice time per game among defencemen this season.