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Columbus, Blue Jackets to host 2013 NHL All-Star weekend

The Columbus Blue Jackets organization has been selected to host the 2013 National Hockey League All-Star Celebration, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced Saturday.

“We’re looking forward to bringing our All-Star celebration to Columbus,” Bettman said during his annual All-Star weekend address in Ottawa, Ontario.

Next year, 2013, will be the third straight year in which an organization hosts the event for the first time. The 2011 All-Star Celebration took place in Raleigh, N.C., and this year’s event is taking place in Ottawa, Ontario.

Blue Jackets’ rookie center Ryan Johansen is the team’s lone representative at this year’s event.

This will be the second NHL event that the Blue Jackets have hosted. The 2007 NHL Entry Draft took place at Nationwide Arena, and Bettman said the success of that event helped lead to awarding Columbus next year’s mid-season event.

“The Blue Jackets did a terrific job of hosting the NHL draft in 2007 and we have no doubt that we’ll have a good time there, with the All-Star game,” Bettman said in his address.

The bid to host the event was submitted by the Blue Jackets with the help of the Columbus Sports Commission.

“I am proud to have the 2013 NHL All-Star Celebration in the city of Columbus, and I’m excited to host the greatest players in hockey, league officials, sponsors, guests and fans from all over North America,” Mayor Michael B. Coleman said in a statement. “Our city is known for its warmth and hospitality and I urge all of our guests to take the opportunity to visit some of our wonderful attractions and neighborhoods, in addition to Nationwide Arena and the vibrant Arena District, when they are here next January.”

Multiple reports indicate that the Blue Jackets applied to host the event in 2013, 2014 or 2015.

“The Blue Jackets are honored to host the 2013 All-Star Celebration in Columbus as we believe our city offers a truly unique setting for this special event,” said Blue Jackets majority owner John P. McConnell in a release. “As much as it is a showcase for the NHL’s best players, it is also a celebration of hockey fans and having it in Columbus is a testament to the fantastic support of our fans and the strength of Central Ohio as a hockey market.”

The CSC estimates that more than $12 million could be generated by visitor spending over the course of the event.

The announcement comes after McConnell sent a mass email yesterday addressed to Blue Jackets’ fans apologizing for the current state of the franchise.

“I am very thankful and appreciative of the dedication and passion you have shown as a Blue Jackets fan and I am committed to giving you a team of which you can be proud,” McConnell said in the email. “All of you are disappointed and many are angry. I and the entire Blue Jackets organization share these feelings.”

The Blue Jackets entered the current All-Star break in last place in the NHL with 32 points through 49 games. They are 32 points out of fourth place in the Central Division of the Western Conference.

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