(Reuters) - Suspended Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has withdrawn from the National Hockey League's (NHL) annual All-Star Game, saying he did not deserve to be there.
The game, on Sunday in Ottawa, comes during the winger's three-game suspension for a hit to the head and the Russian said he should not be allowed to play.
"My heart is not there. I am suspended, so why I have to go there?" Ovechkin told reporters.
"I don't want to be a target. I feel like I'm not deserving to be there right now. If I'm suspended, I have to be suspended."
Ovechkin, a two-time winner of the NHL's most valuable player award, was suspended by the NHL on Monday for a hit on Pittsburgh's Zbynek Michalek on Sunday.
Capitals general manager George McPhee said the team supported Ovechkin's decision.
"It is a great event and he doesn't want that distraction and we don't want it either," McPhee said.
The NHL said it would take no action for the withdrawal.
"Given the circumstances involved, we understand Mr. Ovechkin's decision in this regard, and have no intention of pursuing this matter further," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said.
Ovechkin, who has played in four other All-Star Games, said he was disappointed with the suspension.
"I don't think it was a bad hit, dirty hit," he said.
(Reporting By Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; editing by Julian Linden)