Gary Bettman almost excuses Ovechkin's absence from All-Star weekend...almost

J.J. Regan
NBC Sports Washington

ST. LOUIS -- Alex Ovechkin was voted a captain for the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, but, for the second consecutive season, decided ultimately to not participate in the event in order to rest and prepare for the remainder of the season. By doing so, Ovechkin is subject to a one-game suspension because the league frowns on players choosing to skip the event. Plus, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman misses him.

Bettman spoke glowingly of the Capitals captain on Friday during a media availability prior to the NHL Skills saying Ovechkin's pursuit of Wayne Gretzky's goal record was "incredible."

"It's exciting," he said. "It's a testament both to Wayne's record that it seems to have been unapproachable until now and it's a testament to Alex Ovechkin and his amazing career so far and one that we hope continues for a number of years. Obviously his longevity, and he seems to be in great shape, will be a factor as to whether or not he can ultimately achieve that record."

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As mentioned above, Ovechkin was not among the players in St. Louis so as a quick aside, Bettman finished his thoughts by jokingly saying, "We miss him and wish he was here, but we understand."

Obviously that would have been a significant statement, even if it was meant as a lighthearted joke, considering that Ovechkin must serve a one-game suspension and will miss the team's game on Jan. 27 in Montreal because the league does not condone his decision to skip the festivities in St. Louis.

Bettman, however, quickly corrected himself.

"No we don't," he said. "I miss him."

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Gary Bettman almost excuses Ovechkin's absence from All-Star weekend...almost originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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