Evgeni Malkin could have begged off.

Could have let it be known that he simply wouldn't be able to participate in the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday in Ottawa because he had, say, a nagging groin injury lately, and resting it would be the right thing to do for his team and himself.

Or because he has been battling a case of the sniffles that developed into a full-blown, flu-like ailment.