For the second straight year the NHL All-Star game will be without one of the game's biggest stars as Sidney Crosby has pulled out of this weekend's mid-winter classic in Montreal.
Crosby, who currently sits second in league scoring with 60 points has taken the advice of Penguins' doctors and will rest injured knee over the All-Star break. Doctors had recommended that the Pens' superstar not skate for four or five days. With the Pittsburgh in a battle for a playoff position, the team could be excused for not wanting one of their most valuable commodities to aggravate a lower-body injury.
Crosby himself stated that he wanted to play in the game after missing last year's contest in Atlanta with a high ankle sprain. As well, Crosby has a significant fan following in La Belle Province thanks to his junior days in the QMJHL with the Rimouski Oceanic. He will attend Sunday's game as a spectator.
The 2006-07 Hart and Art Ross trophy winner received the most votes ever in fan balloting (1, 713,021), smashing Jaromir Jagr's previous record. He missed Friday's victory over the Ducks, but played 26 minutes in Tuesday's loss to the Hurricanes.
Crosby, who will be replaced in the game by Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning, is the latest withdrawal from the contest. In addition to Crosby, the game will not feature a single member of the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings as it was announced Wednesday that the San Jose Sharks' Patrick Marleau and the Dallas Stars' Stephane Robidas would replace the Wings' Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom respectively. Both pulled out of the contest to rest nagging injuries.
The Rookie/Sophmore game has also been struck with a rash of withdrawals recently as leading Calder trophy candidate Steve Mason will not be heading to Montreal for the festivities. Mason has been dealing with lingering back issues, however he also started back-to-back games against the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames on Tuesday and Wednesday. Predators' goaltender Pekka Rinne has been called into duty to take Mason's place.
In other goalie news, Canadiens' star Carey Price will pull double-duty as he has been deputized by the Sophmore team following Los Angeles Kings' Erik Ersberg's withdrawal due to lower body issues.
In addition the Chicago Blackhawks' David Bolland and the St. Louis Blues' David Perron have been drawn into the Sophmore team as the Bruins' Milan Lucic and the Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom were forced to pull out with injuries.