All-Star Game Just Fine Without Ovechkin

All-Star Game Just Fine Without Ovechkin

“That’s why they are they.” — Bruce Boudreau, after Alexander and Sidney Crosby each scored three goals in Game 2 of the 2009 second-round series between the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

As the hockey world descended on Ottawa for all-star weekend, the fight was largely over which distraction would prove most effective at overshadowing this corporate monument built around a game in which not a single thing matters, other than not getting hurt. Tim Thomas and the White House? Concussions? The Ottawa party scene, which would be great fun if only it weren’t washing its hair that night?

The answer, of course, is that there’s another candidate that isn’t even here. This time last year, Alexander Ovechkin was leering and cackling and snapping a picture of poor Phil Kessel sitting in a folding chair under a spotlight, wearing a suit that didn’t seem to quite fit, his hands folded on his lap and trying not to look embarrassed. It was the defining moment of the inaugural all-star draft, in which the players got to build their teams, or show their allegiances, or be as mean as high school girls. Well, Ovechkin was the meanest one of all. Kessel has never been the most cherished personality in hockey, but it was impossible not to feel sympathy for him.

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