Ovechkin skipping NHL All-Star Game

Alex Ovechkin is skipping the NHL All-Star Game, a decision he announced a day after getting a three-game suspension from the league for a hit on an opponent.

”My heart is not there. I got suspended, so why (do) I have to go there?” the Washington Capitals’ captain and a two-time league MVP said Tuesday. ”I love the (All-Star) game. It’s a great event. I love to be there.”

But Ovechkin added: ”I feel I’m not deserving to be there right now. If I’m suspended, I have to be suspended.”

Capitals general manager George McPhee said he supported Ovechkin’s decision to back out of the All-Star Game.

”Because he’s a suspended player, he doesn’t feel like he deserves to be there, doesn’t want to be a distraction,” McPhee said.

Ovechkin was punished by the NHL on Monday for launching himself to hit Pittsburgh defenseman Zbynek Michalek during Washington’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Penguins on Sunday.

Ovechkin pointed out that no penalty was assessed on the play, and said: ”I don’t believe I deserve to get a three-game suspension for the hit that I did.”

”I was disappointed, actually. . . . All my career it’s going to be like that. My game is (to) play physical. My game is (to) play hard. I don’t think it was a bad hit, dirty hit.”

NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan said Ovechkin, who has been named to the All-Star team in all seven of his NHL seasons, was suspended for three games because he is a repeat offender when it comes to illegal hits.

Like his player, McPhee questioned whether the suspension was too severe.

”I thought when I saw the hit, there might be a fine or maybe one game,” the general manager said. ”When it went to three, I was pretty disappointed.”

He had a goal and two assists in the game for Washington, which trails Florida by one point in the Southeast Division. He will eligible to return to the lineup on Feb. 4 against Montreal.

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Ovechkin will forfeit more than $150,000.

NewsCore contributed to this report.