ESPN - The decision by Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin to skip back-to-back All-Star Weekends has the NHL concerned it could start a trend among players, according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
“In terms of player participation, is that a concern? Yes, I think it is a concern,” Daly told the ESPN On Ice podcast this week.
“I was the first to defend Alex Ovechkin’s decision last year to take a year off, because he’s been fabulous in terms of helping the league in promoting the sport, including the All-Star event every year. Last year, I was much more willing to look the other way on something like this. But two years in a row is probably something we do need to address with the players’ association, so it doesn’t become a trend.”
Oh, zip it deupty commissioner Bill Daly. Zip it up and zip it good. I understand what he’s saying, he wants the big names playing in the All Star Game. But here’s the thing- Ovi and Crosby have been the faces of the NHL for the last 10 years. Sprinkle in a little Lundqvist and a few other folks as well, but it’s been mainly Ovi and Crosby as your top tier NHL ambassadors.
But Ovechkin is now 34 years old and has done the ASG song and dance close to 10 times. He’s done all the media, all the festivities, the skills competitions, and played in the games. He can’t keep doing this forever, as he said:
“It’s a hard decision, but I have to listen to my body. I have to get ready for the second half of the year. I have to be healthy and focus on different things.”
The All Star Game means nothing, it’s a lot of travel and work, and ultimately for aging players like Ovi, it just ain’t worth it anymore. How can the NHL argue with that? And furthermore, and the point I want to make it, Ovi has done it. He’s put the NHL on his shoulders for over a decade. It’s time to let someone else get the shine. Nathan MacKinnon is a superstar out in Colorado. Pasta is leading the league in goals up in Boston. And Connor McDavid…I mean, what can you even say about this kid? He could be the GOAT when it’s all said and done and no casual sports fan really knows much about him because he plays out in Edmonton. So why not use the All Star Weekend to shine the light on these guys? Why trot out Crosby and Ovi and make them the center of attention when you have all these young dudes who are lighting up the league who deserve the spotlight as well?
For not attending the ASG, Ovi will have to serve a 1 game suspension. Them’s the breaks, I guess. Punish a guy who needs a longer break by…giving him a longer break. Thankfully he can take that luxury because the Caps are having such a good year, but old guys fighting for playoff spots aren’t as lucky, which sucks.
My solution? If you’ve been selected to 8 or more All Star Games and/or you are over 33 years old, you can decide if you want to participate or not. Imagine if the NFL All Star Game was in the middle of the season and they tried to make Tom Brady show up. Blasphemy.
Ovi has paid his dues many times over. He’s done everything there is to do at the All Star Game. Yes obviously the NHL wants him there, but that’s so short sighted. Having him swimming in fountains after winning another Stanley Cup is much more beneficial for the league. So let him take the game off. Let McDavid and MacKinnon get their shine. Ovi will get his, and more than make up for it, come playoff time.