Why is it that the NHL doesn’t like diversity in their pinnacle events?? While the Draft does get moved around frequently, the prospects of the return to Toronto or Montreal– while nice– doesn’t appeal to me not just because I’m a part of the media, but because I’ve been there and won’t get to experience a new location.
That’s why when the NHL announced that the All-Star Game for 2018 would be in Tampa made me tilt my head a little. Not to say that Tampa isn’t a good market to hold it in, as many who have attended events there have said it’s amazing hospitality, but wouldn’t you– as a league– want to shift things around to make sure each market gets a taste of NHL audience traveling there and pumping up the local economy on top of seeing new sights. Tampa last had the All-Star Game in 1999, which happened to be Wayne Gretzky’s last ASG before retiring and he got the MVP in an unsurprising happening.
This past season, Los Angeles had the ASG, 14 years after they last had one and six years after they held a Draft. I get it that LA is a big place for celebrity turnout and a place that people want to be to experience it– but three times in 14 years could be overkill despite the rabid fan base.
While this may seem like an attack on popular markets….it is. When you look at other fan bases who get left out in the cold, you have to look to mainly the East Coast. For me, I’ve never seen a Draft or All-Star Game in the Washington, DC area because the last time they had a big event there was in 1982 and it was in Landover. Long Island/Brooklyn haven’t hosted either since 1983, New York City hasn’t had a big event since 1994; though you could say that the Draft in Newark piggybacked off of New York City being so close.
My point is that there are big fan bases that don’t get these premiere events for one reason or another (maybe they don’t want to bid because it’s too big an undertaking). Sure, some of those places like the DC-area gets outdoor games, but that doesn’t draw fans from the 31 teams, which is nice bank and the ability to get new people to see how great the area is.
Since my ideal location is the DMV-area, I’m sure with the Verizon Center having a lot of other things going on during the ASG and Draft times– it’ll take a lot to get them there. Especially with Vegas coming into play, Edmonton and Winnipeg wanting to get those kinds of events in their arenas that haven’t been explored before, Anaheim and San Jose being left out on a lot of these events, as well. It’s just quite short-sighted for the NHL to not go to places or stump harder for these places to hold these events to diversify the minds of hockey fans.
This is why we get people who don’t know Nashville is a hockey town until they get to a Cup Final. When we went to the 2003 Draft, you could tell that area had a core group of people who loved it and were trying to share the love of it to others, which was rough during their unstable times. Now, it’s finally in full blossom and I know I’m not surprised because I’ve been there. When the eyes aren’t on them in the main events of the NHL, it’s not hard for people to not realize how good a place can be and how amazing the fan base and the cities are in supporting it.