- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The NHL will go ahead with one of its signature events without one of its signature players, as Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will skip this weekend’s All-Star Game and festivities in Ottawa.

A day earlier, the league suspended him three games for a hit on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek.

“My heart is not there. I suspended, so why I have to go there?” Ovechkin said. “I love the game; it’s great event. I’d love to be there, but I’m suspended. I don’t want to be a target. I feel I’m not deserving to be there right now. If I suspended, I have to be suspended. That’s why I give up my roster [spot].”

Capitals general manager George McPhee announced Ovechkin’s withdrawal in a meeting with reporters Tuesday, also citing the captain’s heart not being in it. Of course, there are other factors.

“He really doesn’t want to be a distraction up there, either,” McPhee said. “You know what the questions are all going to be. And so it’s a great event and he doesn’t want to [be] a distraction, and we don’t want it either.”

This was to be Ovechkin’s fifth All-Star appearance, and it will be the first NHL All-Star Weekend without him since he entered the league. Instead, the Caps will have just one representative, defenseman Dennis Wideman.