In Elliott Friedman’s most recent 30 Thoughts, he mentioned in thought #26 that he was hearing rumblings that the 2018 NHL All-Star Game would be in the southeast.
Now Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy has written that it is likely to be Tampa as the host, reporting: “The Tampa Bay Lightning are expected to host the 2018 NHL All-Star Game, multiple sources with knowledge of the process tell Yahoo Sports. The deal hasn’t been officially announced, but barring a late setback the event will return to Tampa for the first time in 19 years.”
One mitigating factor that might stop the ASG from being hosted in Tampa Bay is the NHL’s scheduling of the Olympics. An All-Star Game would preclude the NHL from taking two weeks off for the Olympics in addition to the All-Star break. According to Joe Smith, despite the fact that the league and team have not yet commented,
The delay in the announcement of an All-Star Game appeared to be linked to the uncertainty over the NHL's potential participation in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. It sounds more and more like the NHL won't be going to the Olympics. Next year's NHL schedule is expected to be announced later this summer.
Tampa Bay hasn’t hosted the NHL All-Star Game since the 1998-99 season when Amalie Arena was still known as the Ice Palace. Tampa has long been a destination for special events in professional sports. The area has hosted the Super Bowl four times, the opening round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament four times, the Final Four for the women’s tournament twice (as well as another scheduled for 2019), the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four hockey tournament twice, as well as the Formula One St. Pete Grand Prix.
With the weather and location, as well as the success of the All-Star Game in Nashville and Los Angeles, Tampa is a great choice for the All-Star game. The league won’t have to worry about weather in Florida impacting travel or the schedule. Amalie Arena is one of the ten largest venues in the NHL and has gone through some extensive renovations since Jeff Vinik purchased the team, and due to Vinik’s investment was named the best sports franchise by ESPN’s Ultimate Rankings in 2016.
For Lightning fans, it’ll be an incredible opportunity to see the NHL’s best players participate in the skills competition and the presumed continuation of the 3-on-3 tournament to determine the winner of the weekend. Plus all of the festivities that will go on in and around the arena for the weekend as the NHL’s stars converge on Tampa Bay.
I’m excited. You should be excited. This! Is! Awesome!