Capitals LW 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.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement emailed by a league spokesman: "In light of yesterday's suspension, we informed the Capitals that, while Alex Ovechkin was still welcome to participate in this weekend's All Star festivities in Ottawa, we would not be insisting that he do so. We now understand that Alex has decided to withdraw from this weekend's events. Given the circumstances involved, we understand Mr. Ovechkin's decision in this regard and have no intention of pursuing this matter further."

The league said a replacement for Ovechkin would be announced soon.

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."

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.

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