Originally written January 25, 2012 on centericechat.com:
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Welcome to Center Ice Chat’s Top 5, an irregular series ranking the obscure to mainstream on anything hockey. Today we look at why Alexander Ovechkin got it wrong by skipping this year’s All-Star game due to an overlapping three-game suspension. There’s no question the “Shanaban” is getting a bit repetitive, and has changed the way players have to think and reaction in fractions of seconds. Alexander Ovechkin is a force at the endboards, and he’ll let you know it first-hand. As a result, he got “Shanabanned,” as we all know. Here’s the five reasons why Ovechkin losses out by missing the annual festivities. 5. League leader: Ovechkin will never be the NHL poster boy again. He and Sidney Crosby jockeyed for that distinction for years. Last year when Crosby went down, Ovechkin had that chance to take the lead. However, we were all still emotionally attached to Crosby and the state of his health. Ovechkin never really stepped up and gave us a reason to look away. He went on to have a career low 39 points. 4. Team leader: When Tim Thomas chose, respectfully, not to attend the White House on Monday, many folks raised the argument that it’s not about the player, it’s about the team. Ovechkin needs to represent his team, for better or for worse. All-Star veterans no longer value the annual tradition as an honour, but a personal obligation. It’s also a team obligation, however. He’s there to represent his team, but he won’t be. Who is representing the Capitals this week? Last time I checked, nobody. 3. Pittsburgh Penguins continue to surge. There may not be Crosby, but the man who has put up significant numbers this year, James Neal, is going in Ovechkin’s place. In the Eastern Conference battle for “NHL poster team,” Ovechkin handed the Penguins a gem to have further representation. Neal, unlike guys like Ovechkin, will make most of this opportunity, and cherish every moment of it, we can only assume. 2. The Ovechkin brand. Alexander Ovechkin seemed to be all about selling out his name during the offseason, coming off his worst season. The biggest hockey gear deal was announced when Ovechkin revealed he would be going with Bauer. As a result of Ovechkin being named to the All-Star game, Bauer jumped on this and was proud to announce their Bauer-wearing all-stars. Click here. Getting the Ovechkin brand to a market that doesn’t necessarily generate the views such as a Gamge 7 playoff game or a Winter Classic, but to a novelty experience, is still valuable. Bauer will be with one less representative, and Ovechkin is one of the few guys where the casual NHL fan knows what brand Ovechkin wears. 1. You. Yes, you the fan. Not you, the Washington Capitals fan. But, you, the overall hockey fan. The one that enjoys Ovechkin’s schtick at the skills competition, his grins when he’s chumming it up with his fellow Russians. And, you, the fan, who enjoys watching a casual game of hockey with all politics and story lines aside, and witnessing these highly paid athletes just playing the game. Matthew Wilson is editor of Center Ice Chat. Follow him on Twitter @Mattjw24. Be sure to also Like us on Facebook and to Follow our Tumblr page. If you'd like to contribute, or appear as a guest columnist, please email us at CenterIceChat@gmail.com.
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