WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Washington Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin has pulled out of this weekend's NHL All-Star Game, the Capitals said Tuesday.
Ovechkin withdrew from the game, to be played Sunday in Ottawa, because he was recently suspended for three games by the NHL for a hit Sunday on Pittsburgh defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
"Because he's a suspended player, he doesn't feel like he deserves to be there, so he's not going to go and he doesn't want to be a distraction to the event," Capitals General Manager George McPhee said.
Game officials didn't call a penalty on the ice Sunday but NHL officials on Monday issued Ovechkin a three-game suspension.
"My heart is not there. I got suspended, so why [do] I have to go there?" Ovechkin told The Washington Post. "I love the game; it's a great event. I [would] love to be there but I'm suspended. I don't want to be a target. I feel I'm not deserving to be there right now. I got suspended, I have to be suspended, so that's why I give up my roster [spot]."
Ovechkin would be eligible to return to the lineup for a Feb. 4 game at Montreal. He has 20 goals, which leads the team, and 19 assists in 47 games this season.