Today Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed Puck Daddy's news from May 16 that the Tampa Bay Lightning will host the 2018 NHL All-Star Game. The first time Tampa Bay hosted was in the 1998-1999 season. The All-Star Game will take place on Saturday, January 27 and Sunday, January 28. That’s right — Gasparilla weekend.
The format looks to be the same from last season, with the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday, and the three-on-three divisional tournament on Sunday.
Bettman spoke of his enthusiasm for the All-Star Game AND Gasparilla, and said that one would be included in the other. “In addition to the events on the ice, we're planning outside activities which will embrace the Tampa Bay community and Gasparilla events,” Bettman said in the official press release.
"We are thrilled to host the 2018 NHL All-Star Game at AMALIE Arena," said Jeff Vinik, Chairman and Governor of the Tampa Bay Lightning. "We've worked hard over the past several years to transform Tampa Bay into a hockey market. The honor of hosting the All-Star game validates that work, but it's not the end of our efforts. We pledge to work alongside the NHL as well as leaders across Tampa Bay to deliver a world class experience for All-Star players, fans and partners."
Raw Charge posted about it on May 16, and discussed how the city would be an excellent place to host the game. In Geo's words:
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.
On the other hand, it looks like the Olympics goose is cooked for NHL players. We’ve reported on how excited players like Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov would have been to play for their national teams on the largest stage.
Namestnikov, in an interview with Russian news outlet Izvestia, expressed his hope that the League and the International Olympics Commission would come to an agreement about terms. “I will always be glad to join the national team if I get a call,” Namestnikov told Izvestia, “I hope that NHL players will be allowed to play at the Olympics. It’s a very disappointing situation. I have a contract with Tampa, but I hope that the NHL and the IOC will reach an agreement and I won’t miss the chance to help my national team in Pyeongchang if I am invited.”
Hosting the All-Star Game is definitely the silver lining for Tampa Bay Lightning fans. In the wake of Commissioner Bettman’s comments, the Tampa Bay Lightning twitter feed tweeted up a storm.
Raw Charge will be following this story all season as it develops and plans are made.