Hockey fans really don’t care about the All-Star game, but we mean that in the nicest way. Hockey fans will watch the NHL All-Star festivities and have fun doing it. Will they agonize over every goal? Will they yell at their television over every missed chance in front of the net? Will they be angry if their division’s team loses? Nope, quite the opposite. We’ll save the worrying for hockey that actually counts in the standings.
Since the All-Star game is a glorified exhibition game for bragging rights (and $1 million cash prize, but that’s for the players) maybe the NHL should think out of the box to get fans involved? Recently they’ve started adding local flair to the skills competition. This year’s All-Star game in Vegas featured a skills competition at the Bellagio fountains and “hockey blackjack”.
The All-Star Game receives little fan excitement. Maybe the NHL should try bringing it to a place with hockey fans, but no other NHL hockey teams.
Perhaps the NHL should be more creative in where they hold the game. Never in the history of the All-Star game has it been held in a neutral site location. Hosting the All-Star game is a great honor for a team and its fans, but there are plenty of cities without an NHL team that might appreciate the mid-season classic a bit more than fans who have 41 regular season home games anyway.
A perfect place for the event to be held would be the VideoTron Centre in Quebec City, Canada. The venue was built with the specific intention of bringing the city an NHL franchise to replace their beloved Quebec Nordiques who left to become the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. Quebec has had no such luck. Not only were they passed over in the latest round of expansion, the NHL hasn’t held a single event in the stadium. You know a preseason game between the Montreal Canadiens and Avalanche would be a highlight event.
Look at how excited Vegas and Vegas Golden Knights fans are for this All-Star Weekend. Imagine how much more excited the hockey starved community of Quebec City would be. They’ve been waiting over 25 years for any NHL hockey. A game that is “meaningless” in the grand scheme of things would be a perfect event for the still new arena.
Of course, that’s unlikely to happen. As excited as Quebec hockey fans would be, the NHL still makes a lot of money off the All-Star game. As of Friday the cheapest ticket on Stub Hub was over $115. The game was a sellout.
Unless the league sees a financial incentive to move the game to a place like Quebec (increased ticket sales or maybe local tax breaks) they have no reason to stop the way they chose locations now. The NHL might actually want to avoid the whole “having to collect revenue in Canadian dollars” problem as well. No All-Star game has been held in Canada since the Ottawa Senators hosted during the 2012 season.
Quebec fans would love it and hockey fans all around would love to see NHL hockey return to the Nordiques hometown for one event. The league isn’t in the business of sentimentality unless sentimentality sells. As long as cities with an NHL team already are willing to host an All-Star game to sellout crowds it probably will not happen.