Saturday, 28 January 2012

Dig Out Your Best Jacket

With the Skills Competition coming up today, there's a reasonable amount of anticipation and excitement building for the NHL All-Star Game. Can Zdeno Chara smash his own record in the Hardest Shot Competition? Will we see a new speedster blaze around the rink? What kind of crazy moves and zany outfits will make an appearance in the Breakaway Challenge? All of these questions will be answered in a few hours, but there was bigger news today as the 2013 NHL All-Star Game location was announced by Commissioner Gary Bettman. For the people of Ohio, break out the red carpet and the tuxedos because your Columbus Blue Jackets will host the 2013 NHL All-Star Game!

Without a doubt, this has been a trying year for the Blue Jackets franchise. There was much hope in the off-season with the additions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski that the Jackets could make a run at another playoff spot, but injuries and bad luck have plagued this team since the opening of training camp. The fans have grown weary of the team's lack of postseason appearances, and I don't blame them for their reluctance in supporting the team after claims of future success have gone unfulfilled.

That being said, the NHL had to help the struggling franchise in some way. They are near the ceiling of the salary cap, the fanbase is apathetic at this point, and they will almost certainly post a loss this season. While the NHL isn't truly in the business of propping up struggling franchises, they certainly can't afford another Phoenix debacle.

The NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa will see an estimated $30 million in economic impact for the city, and this kind of cash will certainly help the Columbus Blue Jackets. The city itself is located within a reasonable number of bigger centers - Pittsburgh, Toronto, Detroit, Buffalo, and Cleveland - and that will certainly help drive the economic impact as there may be a vast number of visitors invading the city to catch the All-Star Game.

Of course, it would be nice for the Jackets to have Rick Nash and maybe another star there, so here's hoping the 2012-13 season works out better than this one has. If they don't, however, the NHL will brings its biggest stars to the Ohio city for a weekend of fun and excitement.

For those teams on weaker financial footing, handing them an All-Star Game could turn their fortunes around in the short-term. If they use that cash windfall wisely, they could turn their investments into something that keeps the fans coming back, and to create a way to encourage players to consider their franchise when free agency is upon them.

Congratulations to the Columbus Blue Jackets and the city of Columbus, Ohio on being awarded the 2013 NHL All-Star Game! Let's just hope that Ovechkin doesn't decide to skip this one.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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