Easily defined, the NHL All-Star weekend is when we take a break from the busy NHL schedule and watch the league’s best players come together to take on each other in a skills competition followed by an All-Star game. But, this year is different as we have three of the biggest names in the game today watching the game from their couch at home.
Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin arguably two of the best hockey players in the world right now, along with Jonathan Toews are all missing the All Star game together for the first time in their young careers.
Sidney Crosby will be missing his second straight all-star game due to injury from concussion symptom, and a fractured vertebrae which we just learned of today. Playing 8 games in December after being on the injury list since January, Crosby once again felt recurring concussion symptoms, and has not played since. With his recent examination and the discovery of back injury, his return to play this season is still a question. Nonetheless, his absence is felt as they players and coaches know that the best player in the world is home going through so much struggle as he tries to return to the game he loves.
Alexander Ovechkin will be missing his first All-Star game of his career. He was selected by the league to attend, but decided on his own terms after his recent suspension that he would not make an appearance. He decided that he would not be going because he felt his heart wasn’t in it, and he thought he’d be a distraction.
“I love the game,” he told reporters at the team’s practise facility in Arlington, VA. “It’s a great event. I’d love to be there, but I’m suspended. I don’t feel like I deserve to be there right now. If I’m suspended, I have to be suspended.”
Ovechkin was suspended by the league on Monday for charging Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek. NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan noted that Ovechkin, a repeat offender left his feet on the play, and therefore handed down a 3-game suspension.
Ovechkin’s decision comes after the league released a statement saying “In light of yesterday’s suspension, we informed the Capitals that, while Alex Ovechkin was still welcome to participate in this weekend’s All Star festivities in Ottawa, we would not be insisting that he do so.”
Since participating in his first all-star game, Ovechkin has been a spotlight at the event. From his crazy antics in the shootout competition, where he would pair up with Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin in a crazy shootout, to embarrassing Phil Kesse, as he took a picture from his cellular phone showing Kessel sitting all alone as he was picked last in the All-Star draft last season. His absence will be greatly felt.
Also, it should be noted that Jonathan Toews also will be missing this weekend’s All-Star game due to injury, as Scott Hartnell of the Philadelphia Flyers was chosen by the league as his replacement at this weekend’s festivities. The Chicago Blackhawks centerman is on pace right now for a career high 81 points this season, and is the true leader of the Blackhawks.
Clearly there will be a lot of talent in Ottawa this weekend, but surprisingly there are 12 new faces at the even for their first time. Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning will draw a lot of attention this weekend as he is the only one of the arguably top players in the league right now who will be in attendance.
Therefore, my question is, did the league make the right decisions with their selections for the All-Star game this year? Should players like Ovechkin be able to decline an invitation to the festivities? And, is there enough talent participating at this year’s All-Star game?
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and thoughts.