Now, this hasn't been confirmed yet...but rumors are flying around that this Saturday, the NHL board of Governors will announce that the Columbus Blue Jackets will be the host of the 2013 All-Star Game. This article states that it's all but a done deal at this point and it includes a quote from the Blue Jackets owner. Even NBCsports.com has shared this news. At this point in time it is only a rumor, but as a Ducks fan, if this rumor is true it is very irritating.
Of the 30 teams in the NHL, only two clubs have yet to host an All-Star game OR an Entry draft. The Phoenix Coyotes and the Anaheim Ducks. It is understandable that in Phoenix's volatile situation, the NHL would not award them one of these events just out of principle. It is very likely that the original Winnipeg Jets, now the Coyotes, may find themselves in a new market entirely, as early as next season. With that much uncertainty, we can write off the Coyotes easily and understand it perfectly. What is beyond my understanding is why Anaheim is being ignored. We are not in any financial trouble. For a small-market team we've done pretty well in our almost 20 year history.
The Blue Jackets are 8 years younger than the Ducks and it hasn't even been 5 years since they last hosted the NHL Entry draft. Next year will be Anaheim's 20th year in the NHL. Not only have we never hosted either event, butwe will never get the chance to participate in the NHL's biggest event, the Winter Classic. Bettman has made it very clear that a Winter Classic in California is simply impossible. So we can only put our eggs in the ASG or draft basket. And what would be a more perfect time to host than our 20th anniversary. Noooooo. Give it to the club that desperately needs an NHL event...oh wait. They just hosted one. We've waited patiently.
To my knowledge, we have submitted bids for both events dating back to AT LEAST 2006. Brian Burke confirmed that during his entire time in Anaheim he tried to get us both events, and Murray has confirmed that he has continued the tradition, and we've been rejected every year since the lockout. Talking to a few NHL.com people, and a few TSN guys on Twitter it seems that last year the decision came down to Anaheim and Ottawa, and we both know how that played out. So wouldn't it make sense to give it to the runner up the next year? I mean Columbus has publicly stated that they submitted bids for the 2013, 14, 15, AND 16 games. What was the rush in giving it to them? I know we didn't retract our bid this year. Why would we?
My only explanation for this is, that the NHL feels bad for Columbus. In it's 12 years the only thing they have to be proud of thanks to terrible management is one playoff appearance. And as a fan how can you even brag about being swept clean in the first round of your only playoff appearance in 10 years? You can't. They aren't struggling to sell tickets however...this isn't a move by the NHL to stimulate their finances. The only LOGICAL explanation is this is a pity present. And the NHL expects us to just be happy to be continually sent to Europe to make us forget the other ACTUAL NHL events exist.
Most of us couldn't and still can't afford to go to Europe to watch our teams play. I honestly think the All-Star game has become a sham these days. But that doesn't distract from the principle of it. It's no secret that the NHL doesn't respect us as an organization. But it's really becoming a slap to the face every time we're rejected for this event. And as a fan, I still want to attend an event like this as a fan of the host team, even if it is a sham...it's part of the experience. Something Montreal fans have been granted almost 35 times (combining all their ASG's and drafts).
It's not just that we don't get this event. It's the complete and total disregard, and lack of respect the National Hockey League has for this organization. The league should be helping it's small market teams and rewarding it's patience, not stroking and coddling the teams that already get enough media attention as it is. Obviously Columbus is small market as well, but Pittsburgh (host of the 2013 Draft) is not and they certainly aren't struggling to put fans in the seats like we are.
How much longer do we have to wait until the NHL final says, "Damn! I wish Anaheim would stop bugging us about the All-Star Game. Just give it to them!" 5 years? 10? 20? Why wouldn't this be a good destination? It's not like we're located in the heart of the Mexican desert. We're in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA! I'm sure the All-Stars wouldn't mind 70 degree weather in January.
So, we've been patient...but how much more patient do we have to be? And when will the NHL finally respect us? I think we're going to have to wait a LONG time.