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Daly irked by players skipping All-Star Game: 'Something we need to address'

Chase Agnello-Dean / National Hockey League / Getty

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly isn't loving the recent trend of players skipping out on the league's All-Star weekend.

"I do believe that there has to be a little more urgency among the players to make this a priority, because I think it should be a priority," Daly said, according to ESPN's Greg Wyshynski. "It is, in fact, one of the job responsibilities when it comes to being a professional ice hockey player.

"When you're honored to be selected in an All-Star event, it's in every player's contract that he has an obligation to perform in that All-Star event."

Alex Ovechkin and Marc-Andre Fleury, two of the league's most prominent stars, have already announced they will sit out this year's All-Star Game, even though fans elected Ovechkin as the Metropolitan Division's captain. The Washington Capitals superstar also skipped last season's festivities.

"I was the first to defend Alex Ovechkin's decision last year to take a year off, because he's fabulous in terms of helping the league in promoting the sport, including the All-Star event every year," Daly added. "Last year, I was much more willing to look the other way on something like this.

"But two years in a row is probably something we need to address with the players' association, so it doesn't become a trend."

Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin recently stated he'd rather have the weekend off than have fans vote him into All-Star events. His comments drew ire around the league, including from Sportsnet's Brian Burke.

According to NHL rules, a player who is named to the All-Star Game but chooses not to participate is suspended for one regular-season game.

"What we want to do is make sure everybody understands that it is an important event, not something that should be bypassed lightly," Daly continued. "We'll seek help with the (NHLPA) in instilling that sentiment with the players."

The All-Star weekend takes place Jan. 24-25 in St. Louis.

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