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The NHL dangles the carrot and kicks the can down the road regarding Tampa Bay hosting marquee events

The bidding process, if there is one, isn't clear, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman seems to indicate not to expect the NHL All-Star game or entry draft in Tampa any time soon. Eventually, but not soon.

"Blame me. I can take it. It's not my decision, I just announce it."
"Blame me. I can take it. It's not my decision, I just announce it."
Christian Petersen

In a much less concise and deliberate process, the National Hockey League has a tendency to aid or reward markets with its two long-time marquee events - the NHL All-Star game and the NHL entry draft. The events bring attention and tourism to towns landing the events.  Back in the late 1990's, the league bestowed Tampa with the NHL All Star game as a reward for building the Ice Palace (now known as Amalie Arena). It was also a bit of an aid for the neophyte hockey market. Over the years since then, the aid/reward trend has been repeated instead of a more logical and thought out bidding process between markets. At times, the awarding of these events has come by way of them being simply overdue to return, but there's a habit that big events are given out as incentive or as a financial grant.

The 2015 All-Star game is set for Columbus, bestowed as an aid as well as reward to the neophyte market. The 2015 NHL draft will be in Sunrise and was given to south Florida as a reward for spending a little money on a new jumbotron at BB&T Arena.

Tampa Bay's gotta be in the running for something in the near future by way of what Jeff Vinik has done - out of his own pocket - in Tampa, right?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was at Amalie Arena last week during the Lightning's game against the Calgary Flames to check up on things first-hand in Tampa. He had plenty of praise for what Vinik has done and the state of the game in the market...  And the subject of reward did come to pass:

"We know that this is a great place to host events, we will be back at some point in some form doing it. Maybe when some of the construction around this area is done, it might make for an even more compelling event and gathering of people.''

Taken on its own, without knowing the question that was asked that led to the response, as well as not knowing Bettman's conversations with Vinik and other executives, this should just piss you off. What exactly does Tampa have to do to earn the NHL spotlight? A $40 million renovation of the facility has taken place and ownership just bought the marquee hotel downtown (perfect for hosting the league operations). Yes there are plans for so much more on 25 acres of land surrounding 401 Channelside Drive, but for crying out loud, Gary! Stop dangling the carrot!

Now what if Vinik and company had purposefully said to put off an event until they've redeveloped Channelside? That turns Bettman into what Bettman does best - playing a target and taking it. I'm not sure that was his intentions, as it was rumored the Bolts made a push for the 2012 NHL entry draft (which ended up going to Pittsburgh).

The real frustrating thing about league events (besides knowing the inconsistent process in which they're doled out) is knowing they've been lumped in the Eastern Conference in recent years, and they're overdue to shift back to the Western Conference markets in the near future. The draft has been conducted in the Eastern Conference for 12 of the last 20 years (with the next two events also slated for Eastern cities). Mind you, this includes Nationwide Arena in Columbus as a Western Conference team (which they were at the time of hosting). The All-Star game has been played in Eastern Conference cities 13 of the past 20 games too (with lockouts and Winter Olympic events disrupting the regularity the game was played).

The process for awarding these events isn't all that clear (outside the aid/reward thing), but knowing in-season marquee events have come to light that also are major rewards (the Winter Classic, Heritage Classic and Stadium Series outdoor games), it does come off as a brush off to read the Commissioners words while seeing favor bestowed upon less suitable facilities and towns that are given hosting duties a little too often.