Two of the NHL’s biggest stars have opted out of this weekend’s All-Star festivities in Nashville, and as a result, they’ve each been suspended one game.
In accordance with NHL rules, Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin and Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews will be ineligible to play in their respective teams’ next game after being voted into the All-Star Game but choosing not to participate.
“We made this difficult decision after taking into consideration what we felt was best for Alex and our organization,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a statement. “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.”
Blackhawks head team physician Michael Terry released a similar statement regarding Toews’ status.
“Jonathan will not participate in the 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend in Nashville,” Terry said. “He was pulled from Tuesday night’s third period because of an illness and remains symptomatic today. At this time, rest over the break is most important for him to properly recover and be fully healthy heading into the rest of the regular season.”
Capitals teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov will replace Ovechkin on the Metropolitan Division’s All-Star squad, with New York Islanders center John Tavares taking over for Ovechkin as the team’s captain. Nashville Predators winger James Neal was selected to replace Toews on the Central’s.
“It is always a great honor to be selected to play in the All-Star Game, but to be able to do so in front of the hometown fans and in the city of Nashville makes it even more special,” Neal, one of four Predators All-Stars, said in a statement. “I want to thank the Predators organization, my teammates and coaches for helping me reach this accomplishment.”
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