One of the NHL’s very best will miss the league’s celebration of its top players yet again. Alex Ovechkin, voted as the captain of the Metropolitan Division team for the upcoming All-Star Weekend, told the media after the Washington Capitals’ game last night that he would skip the festivities to focus on resting up for the second half of the season. It should not come as much surprise that Ovechkin will be absent in St. Louis on January 24th and 25th, as he declined the invitation to participate in the All-Star Game last season in San Jose as well.
Ovechkin did not hesitate to provide his reasoning for again skipping the event:
Thanks, first of all, fans for voting me. It’s a hard decision, but I have to listen to my body. I have to get ready for the second half of the year. I have to be healthy and focus on different things. It’s a hard decision, obviously, being the captain and missing the All-Star Game, but I have to do [what is] best for me and for my team.
Ovechkin’s decision will impact more than just All-Star festivities, though. The Capitals superstar will also be suspended for one game for skipping the event, a league rule that does not allow for any exceptions other than injury. Ovechkin understood the repercussions of his decision, which will see him miss either the game before All-Star break, against the rival New York Islanders, or more likely the game after players return from break, versus the Montreal Canadiens.
You don’t want to miss the game, but the rules are the rules, I’m healthy, thank God, and I just made this decision because I have to be in good shape and I have to be ready and good in the playoffs. The most important thing is not the regular year, it’s the playoffs.
For the 34-year-old Ovechkin, who plays as hard as anyone in the league, the decision is completely reasonable. With that said, it is a shame that the NHL will again be missing one of it’s biggest names and most popular personalities at All-Star Weekend. The league can only hope that Ovechkin is the first and last player to do so this season.