We have finally reached the dead portion of the NHL calendar. Outside of the occasional breaking story, this is the time of year where breaking news can be hard to come by.
The next event on the summer NHL calendar is the release of the schedule for the coming season. While this normally causes some buzz around the hockey world, it carries some extra weight this year worldwide, as well as here in central Ohio.
First, the larger implications: The schedule has been delayed so the NHL and the NHLPA can work out a deal with the International Ice Hockey Federation allowing NHL players to play in the upcoming Sochi Olympics next February 7-23.
This delay is necessary because the NHL season will have to shut down for a couple weeks to allow players to play in the Winter Games of the XXII Olympiad.
Of course, it is widely expected that there will be an agreement reached to allow NHL players to play in the Olympics.
Outside of the potential for injury, it really is a no-brainer for the league. The publicity the league receives from the Olympics gives the remainder of the NHL season a much-needed boost to the casual fan.
And while there is a decent possibility that several Columbus Blue Jackets will be selected to compete for their countries, this isn’t the biggest impact this announcement will have on central Ohio.
NHL players in the Olympics means no All-Star Game in 2014.
Which means no All-Star Game in Columbus in 2014.
What it may mean, however, is we may receive actual confirmation from the league that Columbus will be given the 2015 All-Star Game to make up for the game stolen this past January by the NHL lockout.
Columbus deserves this, and there will be anger from all parts of central Ohio (including in my column sure to follow) if they decide to bypass Columbus.
Rumors exist that Toronto may have been promised the 2015 All-Star Game at some point. That, of course, was before the owners decided to lock the players out and cancel half of last season and the all-star game this city and region deserves.
Toronto doesn’t “need” to have the game in 2015. The Toronto market is doing just fine, thanks. They are going to play in the Winter Classic at the Big House in Ann Arbor next year. They get more than enough publicity.
Columbus deserves the chance to show everyone (even those mouth-breathing columnists from Canada – you know who you are) what a great hockey market this is.
It is not just Columbus-area people who think Columbus should get its All-Star Game. There was a great article written by the Puck Daddy himself, Greg Wyshynski, which included this quote about giving Columbus the next available game:
Assuming the NHL is in Sochi, there won’t be a 2014 NHL All-Star Game. There’s probably a bidding process for 2015 already underway, but scrap it: Announce that the Blue Jackets get the game that year after losing it this year. Give the fans and the community something concrete after putting them over as a great venue upon the announcement.
The NHL has a chance to step up and right a wrong in the days ahead. When it announces that its best players will head to Sochi in 2014, announce they will be in Columbus in 2015.