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Sidney Crosby will not play in this weekend's All-Star Game, as he is still recovering from a concussion. Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun break down the news:
Burnside: Well, my friend, the clock is ticking down to the big All-Star Weekend in Raleigh. Sadly for fans hoping to see the world's best player, Sidney Crosby, he has bowed out of the proceedings. Looks like he and Evgeni Malkin, both voted onto the All-Star lineup by the fans, will be kept out of action by injury. If history is any indication, that means Malkin and Crosby will also miss at least the first game after the All-Star break. This is the second straight All-Star Game that Crosby will miss. He was unable to play two years ago in Montreal, but did attend the event and did not incur the league's imposed martial law when it comes to players trying to blow off the annual schmooze-fest.
LeBrun: This time, I'd be shocked if Crosby went to Raleigh. He's recovering from a concussion. He should just stay home and recuperate and not add any stress with travel, etc. I suspect that's what he'll do.
As for his replacement, a league source told me today they should have enough time to replace him with a player at large and not have to use a rookie. As I reported over the weekend, the league is planning to use rookies for any All-Star who bows out late right before the weekend, an idea I like. The league was willing to give Crosby until Friday if he needed it, but the Penguins' captain ended the guessing today.
Burnside: No question his absence diminishes the game's luster, but that's life. It's easy to lose perspective on the whole All-Star process -- who gets selected, who bows out and for what reasons -- but I had a refreshing chat with Matt Duchene, the talented Colorado forward who will be attending his first All-Star Game. He is pumped. He talked about watching the game as a youngster and how exciting it was to see his heroes all in one place. He was particularly interested in the skills competition, and now he'll get a chance to take part in it.
That Crosby and others won't be in attendance isn't likely to diminish Duchene's experience and, frankly, the experience of the fans. Maybe that's a good lesson to remember.
LeBrun: And don't forget the media game Sunday morning at RBC Center. That's always one of the big highlights of the weekend. Just kidding! While All-Star Weekend will be something to remember for those in attendance (even if the game should be a bore, as usual), what about the players who will benefit from the break? Henrik Zetterberg, for example, will get to rest his bumps and bruises and I think that's huge for injury-riddled Detroit. The Wings should get Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Cleary back shortly after the break, and with the rest Zetterberg is getting this weekend, that sets up the Red Wings well for a post All-Star run.
Burnside: I don't think you can understate the benefit of this break for the players and teams that won't be in Raleigh. That's why the games this week are seen as so crucial. Teams like Colorado, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Carolina are hoping to head into the break on a positive note and close in on playoff spots after the break. A lot of it is physical, of course, but there's no underestimating the psychological boost of having a four- or five-day break after winning two or three in a row. Conversely, if teams drop two or three in a row and are looking at how much ground they need to cover after the break ... well, that will make those days off more difficult, that's for sure.
LeBrun: But it can also work the other way. Teams could be on a roll entering the break and lose momentum because of the stop on the schedule. I had a coach complain to me about that. Either way, you and I will be in Raleigh. It all begins with Friday night's fantasy draft, a nice touch this year by the league. But most people's automatic first pick -- Crosby -- will not be there.