SBD/January 25, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Ovechkin Opts To Sit Out NHL All-Star Game Following Suspension For Head Shot

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Ovechkin said NHL's All-Star Game is a great event, but his "heart is not there"
Capitals VP & GM George McPhee said that LW Alex Ovechkin "will not participate in the NHL’s All Star game, which is scheduled for later this week in Ottawa," according to Katie Carrera of the WASHINGTON POST. The NHL on Monday suspended Ovechkin for three games following his hit on Penguins D Zbynek Michalek during Sunday's game. Ovechkin said that he "didn’t feel comfortable attending the All-Star game and did not want to be a distraction." McPhee said that he "supported Ovechkin’s decision to pull out" of the game. Ovechkin: "My heart is not there. I got suspended, so why I have to go there? I love the game, it’s a great event, I love to be there but I’m suspended. I don’t want to be a target. I feel I’m not deserving to be there right now." Carrera notes Ovechkin "was disappointed in the length of his suspension and said he didn’t believe his check on Michalek ... was a dirty hit" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/25). McPhee said, "He really doesn’t want to be a distraction up there, either. You know what the questions are all going to be. And so it’s a great event and he doesn’t want to (be) a distraction, and we don’t want it either" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/25). USA TODAY's Mike Brehm notes Ovechkin "has been a staple at the All-Star Game since joining the league in 2005-06 and has injected humor into the proceedings." Under NHL rules, Ovechkin "could have gone to the All-Star Game even with the suspension" (USA TODAY, 1/25).

PUNISHMENT PROTEST? YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski noted the Capitals and Ovechkin "didn't explicitly say that the decision was made to protest the suspension, but it's not exactly a Grand Canyon-sized logical leap when Ovechkin says he 'loves the game' but that 'his heart is not there' due to the supplemental discipline." Wyshynski: "It's true that Ovechkin's participation in the 2012 All-Star game wasn't based on merit. He's had an underwhelming season. ... Ovechkin is there as a gate attraction, as a star to trot out at sponsors' parties and as a walking billboard for the business interests he's paid to represent. It's a three-day informercial for the NHL, and Ovechkin has chosen to cancel his cameo. If the NHL wanted to punish him for that decision ... we'd have no problem with it" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/24).  ESPN's Barry Melrose said, "If you want all the glory of being great, if you want all the great things that happen when you're a well-paid superstar in the NHL, you should be at the All-Star Game. That benefits the NHL and benefit their partners” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/25). The GLOBE & MAIL's Sean Gordon writes while Ovechkin’s decision "may be chalked up as an act of defiance (or petulance) from a man who feels wronged by the league, his comments hint at a deeper truth." He has gone from being the NHL’s "most-feared goal scorer to a bubble all-star candidate" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/25). Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "He's sticking it to the National Hockey League" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/24). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "This is the act of a selfish baby, to take your puck and go home. You go to the All-Star Game. You don’t say to the NHL, ‘See what you did to me? Now I’m doing this’” (“PTI,” ESPN, 1/24). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek writes in the "aftermath of his suspension for a head shot," Ovechkin's decision "just comes across as more spoiled-brat behaviour" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/25).

INJURY BUG: In Ottawa, Ken Warren writes Ovechkin's decision is the "latest embarrassment for the league when it comes to drawing all-stars to the game." Ovechkin is the "latest in a long line of original all-star selections who won't be coming, but most of those were based on injuries." Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews "has an upper body injury" and was replaced yesterday by Flyers LW Scott Hartnell. Meanwhile, before the selections were announced this year, Red Wings D Nicklas Lidstrom and Ducks RW Teemu Selanne "asked the league to not consider them because they would prefer to take the time off to rest and spend time with their families" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 1/25). Also in Ottawa, Wayne Scanlan writes, "It's not that the Ottawa ASG lacks stars. The entire NHL is missing its marquee mojo at the moment." Penguins C Sidney Crosby will not be at the All-Star Game "because his head is still not right after his latest concussion." Also missing the game due to injury are Oilers C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Wild C Mikko Koivu, Jets D Dustin Byfuglien and Stars C Jamie Benn. Scanlan writes just a "few years ago, Sidney and Ovie were the young faces of the game, poised to carry hockey for the next decade or more. ... Good to great players are all around us. But let's not pretend that [Penguins C] Evgeni Malkin and [Red Wings C] Pavel Datsyuk, as skilled as they are, can capture the imagination of fringe fans while the league hitches its wagon to them" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 1/25).
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