NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk wasn't too surprised by the news that fellow Russian Alex Ovechkin was deciding to sit out the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa this weekend.
On Tuesday, Ovechkin decided to remove himself from the event for fear he would become a distraction after being handed a three-game suspension by the League.
"You never know what's going on in his head now," Kovalchuk told NHL.com. "Obviously, he's upset because it's three games. But that's his decision and he's a grown man and he decided to take a couple of days off and get ready for the second half instead."
Ovechkin will begin serving his three-game suspension on Tuesday when the Capitals play host to the Boston Bruins at Verizon Center. The suspension was the result of a hit on Pittsburgh's Zbynek Michalek in the second period of a 4-3 overtime loss Sunday at Consol Energy Center.
"I think it's more a personal decision than anything else," Kovalchuk said. "He's probably looking at what's better for him and his team. That's what he should care about the most. But in an All-Star Game, it's more of a show. When you're in that kind of situation, it's understandable. Obviously, he deserves to be there, but when you're suspended … I don't know."
Kovalchuk, who spoke to NHL.com hours before his team faced the Buffalo Sabres at Prudential Center, said he will spend the weekend with his family.
"It'll be nice to be around the kids, for sure," Kovalchuk said.