Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin will sit out the 2020 NHL All-Star Game to rest up for the second half of the regular season, per Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic:
Ovechkin explained his decision after his team's 2-1 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.
"Thanks, first of all, fans, for voting me," he said per ESPN's Emily Kaplan. "It's a hard decision, but I have to listen to my body. I have to get ready for the second half of the year. I have to be healthy and focus on different things."
"You don't have extra days off during the year, but you have to take what you have to take," Ovechkin added.
"If I was 21, yeah, I'm healthy, I'm good, but I have to think about the second half of the year and the playoffs. That's the most important thing for me and for this organization, as well."
The 34-year-old has 23 goals and 14 assists for the 26-7-5 Caps, who have the most points in the NHL. The 15-year veteran has played 38 games.
Ovechkin has never missed more than 10 games in a season and only sat once over the past four years. However, Adam Gretz of NBC Sports explained Ovechkin will have to miss a matchup because of his All-Star Game decision:
"League rules dictate that Ovechkin will have to sit out one game either before or after the All-Star break due to his withdrawal from the game. The Capitals’ game before the break is January 18 at the New York Islanders. Their game immediately after is January 27 at the Montreal Canadiens. Given that the Islanders are a divisional opponent they might rather have him for that game.
"Either way, not playing in the All-Star game, combined with the one regular season game he sits out, will give him more than 10 days off in the middle of the season."
This year's All-Star weekend will take place in St. Louis from Friday, January 24, through Saturday, January 25.
The 12-time All-Star and three-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner is looking to guide the Capitals to their second Stanley Cup win in three seasons.