Ovechkin chooses rest over 2019 All-Star Game, will have to sit one game

13 Comments

The Metropolitan Division will need a new captain for the NHL All-Star Game later this month in San Jose. Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has announced that he will not be participating in the festivities the weekend of Jan. 25-26 and intends to stay home and rest for the second half of the season.

Ovechkin, who currently leads the NHL with 29 goals, was named as one of the 2019 All-Star Game captains last week, along with Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and Auston Matthews.

Because Ovechkin is pulling out of All-Star Weekend, he will be suspended for one game, which will either be for Washington’s final game before the break or their first one back, which will take place following their bye week. That would be a good week and a a half for the 33-year-old forward to rest up for what he hopes is another deep playoff run.

This is the second time Ovechkin’s received a one-game ban for pulling out of the All-Star Game.  In 2016 he was named Metro Division captain and couldn’t play due to a lower-body injury. Back in 2012 he skipped the Game because he was in the middle of serving a three-game suspension for a hit on Zbynek Michalek. “My heart is not there. I [got] suspended, so why I have to go there?” he said at the time, despite still being eligible to participate in the event.

What will this mean for the All-Star Game going forward? If a player of Ovechkin’s stature is fine with sitting one game to rest up, will we see other veteran players do the same? He isn’t the first player to pull out of the game and take a suspension. Will more follow suit in the future?

So who replaces Ovechkin? He was likely going to get selected by the NHL’s Hockey Operation department anyway, but it sure looks like it could be Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who leads all Metro Division players with 50 points.

The 2019 NHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place on Friday, Jan. 25 (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and the 2019 NHL All-Star Game will be on Saturday, Jan. 26 (8 p.m. ET, NBC).

MORE: How do we improve the NHL All-Star Game?

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.