NHL Week in Review (December 29-January 4)

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This week saw one of the biggest stars in the game take a stand that is not usually done in the league.

As the NHL prepares for their midway point the All-Star game approaches and as always it brings up a lot of questions.

The All-Star game in any league is not the most exciting game and has often been the centre of debate.

Not many people believe that the all-star game means much other than a chance for leagues to make money and highlight their talent.

Through all of the changes and the attempts to make it something special and to truly highlight talent nobody has figured it out.

The game has always been a relative walkthrough for the best players in the league who have to travel to another city, do the media interviews and play the games.

None of them really care too much about it other than the fact that they can call themselves an all-star, not to mention the multiple all-star incentives built into contracts.

For some players, it is a lot to deal with as they have their own obligations in trying to guide their teams to playoffs throughout the season.

Then in one of the few breaks that they get in the season they have to continue to play, even if it isn’t the most competitive game.

The NHL constantly looks to highlight their best players and because of the fact that the game means nothing they encourage their players to attend the game.

If they are named to the all-star game they are required to play if they are able to play or else they face a one-game suspension.

Many players drop out due to injuries but not many have actually decided not to go despite the fact that they were healthy.

This week one of the biggest stars in the game made that decision as Alexander Ovechkin will not be at the All-Star game.

Ovechkin was named a captain last month being one of the most visible players in the league.

He was set to lead the metropolitan division but after the last year that Ovechkin has gone through, he decided to take the break.

Last year Ovechkin led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup, the first in his career, and then went on a pretty crazy celebration tour.

He did the usual interviews and partied all over the world with the Cup but that run to the Cup takes its toll.

Like every other star who found their way to the Cup the run to get there can take a lot out of the players.

Especially when they have only a few months to get back into the game after meeting media obligations and having their time with the Cup in local parades and in their communities.hockey-sidebar

By the time they are done the whirlwind that leads up to and follows a Stanley Cup championship, it is time to start their next march towards another one.

The break they get is almost non-existent and it can lead to bodies breaking down without having that rest that so many other players get.

It is a big reason for the difficulty that teams experience when trying to defend their title.

Ovechkin is experiencing that grind right now as he returned to the league with little time to prepare and very little time off.

So when the all-star break provides him the opportunity to sit back and heal his body as he gets ready for the final half of the season.

The move was not something that sat well with the league as they handed him his one-game suspensions and lost one of their biggest stars for a weekend that they try to highlight their biggest stars.

It was a controversial move and one that might set some new thoughts in motion about this game.

There is already plenty of people thinking about the value of these games rather than just naming the all-stars at the end of the season.

They are often a waste of time and when one of the biggest stars in the league seems to think the same way it is hard for the NHL to argue.

If Ovechkin is the first in a line of players to decide not to go to the all-star game it could lead to the game taking an even lesser role in the season.

Ovechkin was willing to sit out a game and lose a game check to heal himself and If more players are willing to do that they could take the little meaning left in the game.

 

Overtime

More Division

The NHL and NHLPA have never really been able to get along they are constantly fighting for the CBA in every move they make. The league took a hit this week when Dallas Stars CEO openly criticized his star players. Jim Lites went on a tirade against Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin claiming that they were playing terrible especially for the money that they are being paid. The comments did not sit well with the NHLPA as there are plenty of people who are criticized but the tone and language used was too far for them. It would be another point for the PA as they head towards CBA negotiations seeing team management as the enemy.

Testing the Depth

The Toronto Maple Leafs came into the season with plenty of goaltending depth only helping the thought that they could be great this year. That depth is being tested in a big way right now as they have lost most of their top goalies. With Frederik Andersen out for the last few weeks and Garrett Sparks suffering a concussion the Leafs had to reach into a the minors. That is where the recently acquired Michael Hutchison was playing before finally getting the call. Concussions are notoriously hard to predict and Andersen remains out leaving the Leafs with questions in one of the most important positions in hockey.

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