Alex Ovechkin Punished by NHL for Choosing Rest Over All-Star Game

Photo credit Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON (The Fan D.C.) -- Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin has chosen helping his team over personal glory and the NHL is suspending him one game for it. What a crock.

Ovechkin has decided to skip the All-Star Game on Jan. 26, despite being voted captain of the Metropolitan Division, to rest for the second half of the season and playoffs. He played in 106 games last season, including 24 postseason games during the Capitals' run to a Stanley Cup championship. Ovechkin has come right back to play in 38 games while leading the NHL with 29 goals.

If Ovechkin wants to rest before trying another championship run, the NHL should respect that. After playing the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 23, the Capitals are off until Feb. 1 against the Calgary Flames. Ovechkin will miss one of the two games for his suspension to gain a nine- or 10-day break.

Let's sum this up: Ovechkin is helping his team by getting rest rather than enjoying the accolades of playing in a meaningless exhibition, and the NHL suspends him.

The NHL wants its top players to participate, but suspensions won’t encourage cooperation. If nothing else, it embitters players from helping the league. The NFL lets injured players miss its Pro Bowl. Major League Baseball lets pitchers opt out of the All-Star Game.

Ovechkin is 33 years old and knows his aging body needs more rest to help the team attempt to repeat as champions. It’s not like he’ll party all week in Las Vegas. The league should respect players opting out, not punish them.

The Caps and Ovechkin are being unfairly penalized by the league for not helping the NHL gain higher TV ratings. Who’s the bad guy here? It's not No. 8.

By Rick Snider