SAN JOSE, Calif. – Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin believed he needed a break badly enough that he accepted a one-game suspension in order to sit out the All-Star Game.
Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon took a different approach.
Bothered by a badly bruised foot, MacKinnon won’t participate in the Skills Competition or All-Star Game, but showed up to be part of the festivities.
Under NHL rules, if a player takes part in the festivities, even if he doesn’t compete, he doesn’t have to sit out a game. That’s the penalty for players who skip the event.
“It’s not broken, just really sore, swollen still. I am not going to force it this weekend,” MacKinnon said. “Also, I like to be here … but I’d get suspended. I was forced, but I do love coming to this. It’s still fun. I’m still the captain. Going to get my jersey and take a couple of pictures.”
The Avalanche, barely holding a wild-card spot with a 22-20-8 record, are 3-7 in their last 10 games. MacKinnon didn’t feel like he could afford to sit out a regular-season game.
“It’s all good – glad to be here,” MacKinnon said.
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Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is going to play in Saturday’s game, but won’t take part in the skills event because he is ill.
U.S. women’s hockey team player Kendall Coyne will replace MacKinnon in the fastest skater contest.
MacKinnon will get time off to rest his foot because the Avalanche are going on their team break. They don’t play until Feb. 2.
He said he has looked forward to All-Star Weekend.
“It’s definitely lighthearted,” MacKinnon said. “Every day you go to the locker room, it’s very intense, and everyone is pretty focused. But everyone around here is light and loose.”
Fans at the Skills Competition might be disappointed because MacKinnon is an exceptional skater. Could he have challenged Connor McDavid as fastest skater?
“I get killed every year, so I’m happy I don’t have to do it,” MacKinnon said. “Connor is so fast.”