The Saturday Slate is a weekly discussion or platform where members of Win Column Sports provide their respective opinions and thoughts on an event that took place in the prior week. Additionally, there is also a running pool amongst the contributors based on our picks for Saturday’s match-ups. This week, the Win Column panel discusses the NHL action on January 26th.
It’s All-Star Weekend 2019 from San Jose this weekend so there’s no prediction table, however, despite people’s opinion on the on-ice festivities every year, the off-ice festivities are always great as the host city usually puts on a good show for everybody attending. The host city works on a rotation basis where an NHL city gets to host the event every year, but what would happen if they didn’t choose a current NHL city, where would the best city in the world to host the event based off fan experience? The boys in the slate this weekend give their opinion on where they’d like to see the All-Star game visit that doesn’t currently have an NHL team.
Whether you’re a fan of the All-Star Game or not, there is plenty of potential that revolves around the All-Star weekend. The entertainment factor is certainly still available even though I personally believe it’s faded over the course of the last couple of years. I believe the potential comes in the form of exposure, and this could certainly help grow the game of hockey in areas where the following isn’t as prominent. Regardless of the location of the All-Star Game, people are still going to travel and attend it. Lots may argue that having the All-Star game in a smaller market may do more harm than good but, building a brand and building exposure will only help the game of hockey.
My suggestion sort of piggybacks on what the NHL did at the beginning of this season with the Oilers and Devils. The Devils and Oilers played a pre-season game in Gothenburg, Sweden which turned out to be quite successful, to say the least. This can be an excellent opportunity for the NHL going forward. It wouldn’t even have an effect on the players themselves as there’s already an extended break leading up to the All-Star game as well as bye weeks afterwards. My suggestion would be in Manchester, England at the Manchester Arena. The capacity itself (21,000 seats) is sufficient and the venue is capable of putting on a pretty strong All-Star weekend. In a market that is dominated by Soccer, I believe an All-Star game in Manchester would do just fine and could make way for more overseas NHL events in the future.
A few months ago, the NHL announced they were expanding to Seattle in the 2021/2022 season. What better way to get a city excited than bringing the best of the best in the NHL to town? I may not be the biggest fan of the annual All-Star classic, but as a marketing tool, it’s genius. Frankly, if the league is serious about expanding into new markets, I believe the ASG should always be held in cities that don’t currently have an NHL team. It’s an excellent way to build your brand, and in Seattle’s case specifically, get an untested market excited about a brand-new sports team. Let’s not forget, this is a city that lost a basketball team in recent years, and while that was in no way the fans fault it’s essential that the new NHL franchise kicks off with a bang. Why not get the city as excited as possible?
This wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be, as there are just so many cities that would be good. Stockholm, Moscow, and Helsinki are all good European cities with lots of player ties in the NHL. I’ve settled on New Orleans, I think New Orleans is a party city and maybe the NHL doesn’t work well there because it’s too far south, but the festivities and the weather would be amazing for All-Star Weekend, plus could you imagine the Mardi Gras themes? Maybe they could even move the event to Mardi Gras weekend, it’s usually in February anyway.
When it comes to All-Star games, it’s about putting on a good time for the fans. That being said, what city can put on a good time? Miami is consistently rated the #1 party city, but they already hosted mere years ago in Tampa Bay during Gasparilla. Now, another city that can put on a good time and is consistently rumoured to be getting an NHL team: Houston. With Dallas getting the Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl next year, it’d be good to wait a few years, but certainly give Houston and get the fan base excited for when the Flames move there in 2024.
WinColumnSport’s Saturday Picks
|NHL All Star Game Winners
Records Thus Far:
- Ben: (86-70), Last Week: (3-8), Winning Percentage: (55%)
- Carl: (54-48), Last Week: (4-7), Winning Percentage (53%)
- Arik: (76-80), Last Week: (3-8), Winning Percentage: (49%)
- Spencer: (75-81), Last Week: (6-5), Winning Percentage: (48%)
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