January 30th, 2012
Matt Wagner, SB Nation
Columbus isn’t a city with a great reputation around the NHL, but as one native writes, the Blue Jackets organization and the entire area might be better prepared to host the 2013 All-Star Game than you think.
Like any major decision by the NHL, the weekend news that the 2013 All Star Game has been awarded to the Columbus Blue Jackets brought immediate and diverse reactions.
While many were quick to get on board with the idea, highlighting the franchise’s previous hosting of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft and the good reputation of the Columbus fans, reaction from other circles was not so positive. More than a few tossed jokes about the
All Star Game being a chance to avoid “too many hometown players” or concerns that this could be similar to the 2008 All Star Game in Atlanta—a bone thrown to a struggling franchise, and a city that would not truly embrace the event.
(For that matter, many who attended the 2008 game also complained about a lack of “non-hockey” options for entertainment and socializing, and that concern has been voiced as well.)
Fortunately, it appears that both the Blue Jackets organization and the City of Columbus
have anticipated these concerns.
While it is unclear at this point exactly how the team will be constructed for the 2012-13 season, the promise of team majority owner John P. McConnell to make “extreme” changes in pursuit of a “consistently competitive” team could provide a pool of talent for All-Star selection. That’s easier said than done, but some pieces are already in place.
Former NCAA star Cam Atkinson, currently tied for the AHL scoring lead, will likely be a part of the big club next season, an obvious rookie selection. Ryan Johansen participated as a rookie this year in Ottawa, and Rick Nash will almost certainly be a team captain in 2013.
The City of Columbus has been an active participant in both preparing the bid for the game and helping the franchise resolve
several off-ice issues related to their arena lease. With a new deal in place that takes financial burdens off the club and anchors
the franchise to Columbus through 2039, the All-Star festivities are an ideal way to help celebrate the new relationship between the city and its hockey club, bringing an anticipated $12 million dollars in