Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and Ducks goaltender John Gibson will represent their teams as members of the Pacific division squad at the NHL All-Star Game in San Jose, but one of hockey’s biggest stars has declined to attend the festivities.
Washington Capitals winger Alexander Ovechkin, who had been elected the captain of the Metropolitan division team in fan balloting, said on Wednesday he would prefer to stay home and rest for a drive toward a possible second straight Stanley Cup championship. Per NHL rules, which state that any player who does not participate for reasons other than injury must miss a regular-season game, he will be suspended for one game.
The All-Star contest will be played in a three-on-three, division-vs.-division format for the fourth straight season. The three-game mini-tournament will be played at San Jose’s SAP Center on Jan. 26.
Ovechkin, 33, had scored a league-leading 29 goals through Tuesday’s games. “First of all, thanks for all the fans who voted for me,” he told reporters in Washington. “I know it’s a tough decision obviously. I like to be part of all the events, but right now I think that time of the year and my age we decide to take a one-week break. It’s hard but it’s better for me, I think, at this point….I think my body needs a little rest.”
This will be Doughty’s fifth straight All-Star selection and the second for Gibson. Doughty leads all NHL players in average ice time, at 26 minutes 41 seconds. Gibson (2.59 goals-against average, .924 save percentage) has been the backbone for the goal-starved Ducks. He will make his second All-Star appearance.
The host San Jose Sharks had the most players, three, with forward Joe Pavelski and defensemen Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns winning spots. Here’s a link to the rosters, which will be supplemented by one additional player per team based on fan voting.
Toronto’s Auston Matthews was voted the captain of the Atlantic division team, Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon as captain of the Central division team, and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid as captain of the Pacific division team. No captain was named to replace Ovechkin for the Metropolitan division team. The coach of the team with the highest points percentage in each division at the halfway point of the season will coach his division’s All-Star team.