Alex Ovechkin gets a three-game suspension so he’s taking his road hockey net and going home. That, in essence, is what’s happening as the Washington Capitals star has decided not to participate in this weekend’s All-Star Game in Ottawa.
He says he doesn’t want to be a distraction. Yeah, my right eye he doesn’t want to be a distraction. He’s clearly pissed off enough to tell the league to find another sucker to put on a dumb hat and goofy sunglasses to help sell the game. To confuse matters, he still doesn’t understand why he got three games as he feels he hit Pittsburgh defenceman Zybnek Michalek’s shoulder first before hitting the head.
So the question begs: should he still go? I say no. In a perfect hockey world I do believe Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Nicklas Lidstrom showing up to the All-Star Game is the best thing for the league. But the hockey world is far from perfect and the truth is the league gave Ovechkin the wiggle room to take a pass and I believe he’s perfectly within his rights to take the weekend off.
In 2008, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman imposed a policy that states all-stars who are injured must have missed at least the last game before the break in order to be excused; otherwise, they must sit out the first regular-season game after the break. Nowhere does it state anything about suspended players.
I believe suspended players should lose the privilege of playing in an all-star game — end of story. It’s still a privilege to play in this thing isn’t it? But because we see that type of hit on a nightly basis, nobody has weighed in on whether he should lose his right or not.
Imagine for one minute we weren’t talking about a borderline hit but rather an ugly stick-swinging incident that warranted a 10-game suspension. Do you think this hypothetical player should be participating in the All-Star game? I certainly don’t. Wouldn’t there be a public outcry to keep such an animal off the ice? Absolutely there would.
The truth is we don’t know how the league would react to this situation because there isn’t any rule on suspended players not participating. We haven’t seen this scenario before under Gary Bettman’s regime so for the league to now suspend Ovechkin one additional game for not showing up would be wrong. You can’t just make it up as you go along. We’ve had enough of that in the past.
Ovechkin’s choice was between spending four days working his butt off shaking hands and kissing babies, or spending the weekend somewhere warm, gearing up for a big push in the second half of the season. Others have chosen the beach, why not him this one time? He’s been the league’s best poster boy when it comes to helping Bettman market the game, so no one can accuse him of being selfish.
I get Ovechkin for bailing, but I also get the league taking a firm stance on launching your body in the air like a missile (even if I do think three games is excessive). They’re trying to get that crap out of the game. The league has to send a message that just because you’re playing the last few games before All-Star break, you don’t have the right to start leaping two feet off the ice and doing whatever the heck you want. Ovechkin’s history of wild hits has finally caught up with him.
Expect a new policy to be enacted that deals with suspended players, just as there was one to deal with Lidstrom skipping the All-Star Game in Montreal in 2009. We’ll call it the Ovie Rule.
In the meantime Alex, enjoy your weekend and let us know how it goes. If not, I’ll just look for it on YouTube.