Despite his suspension, Alex Ovechkin should play in this weekend's All-Star Game with pride, get over his ban, and provide hockey fans with highlights like these.
Normally when Alex Ovechkin leaves his feet, he's just scored a highlight-reel goal.
On Sunday, he left his feet to deliver a punishing hit to Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Zbynek Michalek, resulting in a three-game suspension levied by the NHL's discipline czar Brendan Shanahan.
Fact is, Shanahan's been extremely consistent in punishing hits to the head in any form this year, so the Capitals sniper shouldn't be surprised, even though no penalty was called on the play.
But the real shocker is the 26-year-old's dismay at the length of the ban (especially for a repeat offender who's been suspended and fined twice before). So much so that he decided to skip this weekend's all-star festivities in Ottawa.
"My heart is not there. I got suspended so why do I have to go [to the All-Star Game]," Ovechkin told reporters Tuesday at the team's practice facility. "I love the game, it's a great event. I'd love to be there but I'm suspended ... If I'm suspended, I have to be suspended."
Yes, he has to be suspended, but his ban doesn't include riding the pines for the All-Star Game. And if he'd love to be there, then, um, shouldn't he be there? The only thing holding him back is himself.
While I respect and fully acknowledge that the decision to play is his to make and only his, Ovechkin needs to look at the bigger picture.
With Sidney Crosby still sidelined with a concussion, Ovechkin is arguably the game's biggest draw, and the game is bigger than the individual in any case.
His colourful personality, flare for the dramatic and knack for providing on-ice entertainment are something that will surely be missed. His absence is not just hurting the game, but most importantly the fans - he's just too good a talent.
On the bright side, Ovechkin has at least made room for the more-than-deserving James Neal (27 goals, 20 assists in 49 games) of the Pittsburgh Penguins to showcase his skills.
But Ovechkin should own the honour. He should play in the All-Star Game with pride, get over his suspension and provide hockey fans with highlights like these:
During the 2009 All-Star Skills competition, Ovechkin makes use of props and flies the Canadian flag on his hat to the delight of the Montreal faithful:
The Russian sniper can break a stick, slip on a camera cable and still have a good time, even though he didn't win the hardest shot competition:
Ovechkin wraps it up as the Eastern Conference registers a shootout win in the 2009 All-Star Game:
This is actually harder than it looks, .but I guess anything's possible with No. 8.
The 2011 NHL All-Star Breakaway Challenge champion displays his credentials. And yes, they're pretty darn impressive.
Rod PerryRod grew up in the west end of Toronto and did his undergraduate degree at Wilfrid Laurier University, majoring in English and minoring in Psychology. He's always had an infatuation with anything sports-related and took his passion to Centennial College's sports journalism program for a post-graduate education. He's also still miffed about the Kelly Gruber botched triple play call in the 1992 World Series.
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