On the eve of the All-Star break, the Washington Capitals announced that star left-wing forward Alex Ovechkin will not be attending the All-Star game in Nashville, TN because of a lower body injury. “He’s been dealing with it for quite a while so we made a long-term decision with him, the coaching staff and the trainers,” said coach Barry Trotz.
Trotz emphasized that the organization carefully considered its options and he feels strongly that it is the right decision for the Capitals organization, the fans and for Ovechkin. The Capitals, who are the NHL’s leading team, are projected to be a strong contender for this year’s Stanley Cup and Trotz said, “The ultimate goal for us is to go deeper [in the playoffs] than we did last year.”
Fan-voted captain of the Metropolitan Division team, Ovechkin said, “I wanted to go there and play in the All-Star Game, it’s a huge opportunity and a huge honor but I was not healthy in probably like a couple months”. He also noted that he further aggravated his injury while cleaning snow up from around his house last weekend. The Caps hope that the break will provide Ovechkin with enough time so that the injury completely heals before playoffs.
“We made this difficult decision after taking into consideration what we felt was best for Alex and our organization,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “Alex has been an incredible ambassador for our team and the league, but we believe it is better if he uses this time to heal and ideally be completely healthy for the duration of the season.”
However, the break does not come without a cost. As a penalty for missing the All-Star games, NHL rules require a one game suspension that will have Ovechkin missing the Capitals February 2 game against the Florida Panthers. As we saw when the Caps fell to the San Jose Sharks with a shut out 5-0 loss, Ovechkin’s absence on the front line leaves a definite gap in play; however, the Caps are willing to make that sacrifice for the overall health of their star forward.
The Capitals announced their decision after falling 4-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday. Ovechkin has been named to seven NHL All-Star Games, and has played in five. He was the Capitals’ first round, first overall draft pick in the 2004 NHL draft and has earned numerous NHL awards and accolades including the Art Ross Trophy in 2008, Calder Memorial Trophy (2006), Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, and Maurice Richard Trophy. With 28 goals, he has the second highest tally in the NHL.
By Stephanie Judge