by PuckStopsHere on 01/24/12 at 09:05 PM ET
Alexander Ovechkin has announced that he will join Nicklas Lidstrom, Teemu Selanne (and possibly Joe Thornton) in missing the All Star Game. The difference between Ovechkin and the others is that Ovechkin did not let the league know he did not want to participate before the player selections were announced. Perhaps he thought his play was not good enough for a selection, so he didn’t have to worry. Nicklas Backstrom was a more logical choice for the Caps, as he is the Caps top scorer. However Backstrom has been out with a concussion and hasn’t played since January 3rd. Ovechkin’s star power makes him a logical Caps choice even in a poor season from a public relations standpoint.
I do not believe Ovechkin’s excuse for missing the game. He is currently suspended and doesn’t want to attend as a suspended player.
Ovechkin was suspended for three games for a charging hit on Zbynek Michalek of the Pittsburgh Penguins that occurred in Sunday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Pens. Though the suspension runs over All Star break, it is for three regular season games and is not a suspension for the All Star Game. The fact is Ovechkin wants the weekend off and the suspension is a convenient excuse.
Despite the dubious reasons to miss the game, there is no reason to further punish Ovechkin. It would put a black cloud over the All Star weekend and it is unfair to punish a player for not accepting what is in principle a reward (participation in the All Star Game).
The All Star Game is probably better from a purist standpoint without Ovechkin. Those who would like to see All Star Games as a record of which players are having great seasons would argue that Ovechkin is not having a particularly good season and thus should not be an All Star. The All Star Game is a hockey spectacle played largely for sponsors and young fans. Its position as such is safe with or without Ovechkin. This is especially true when Ovechkin’s play makes him a poor choice for the game. I just wish he didn’t have to give us a false reason for missing the game.
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