Another special hockey experience is coming to Ohio. After Ohio State participated in the Frozen Diamond Faceoff this past month, it was announced that the 2013 NHL All-Star Game will be played right here in the capital city. For the Blue Jackets – currently the NHL’s worst team – this signifies a long-awaited pick-me-up. Though hosting the All-Star Game won’t fix the team’s many problems, it does give hockey fans in the area something to cheer about.
Saturday’s announcement came at an interesting time, as many fans took to the streets outside of Nationwide Arena to protest against the team’s front office that same day. Getting this glamorous All-Star weekend might not have been what they were searching for, but I doubt the news will cause any fan to be more downtrodden than they already are.
The game should prove to be another opportunity for the sport of hockey to grow in this community, especially considering its already-strong base. And while those groups of loyal fans will continue to “carry the flag” for the Jackets, there is still a capacity for large growth surrounding support for the team and the sport. The Frozen Diamond Faceoff already provided a big event from which people could anchor their interest in hockey on a college level, and the All-Star Game promises to do the same thing on a professional plane.
One demographic where interest should be especially heightened is among students, always such a crucial group of consumers. With the game here next year, one can only hope interest around campus grows exponentially. No doubt that college students will be excited to see such stars as Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, two poster boys for the sport. It’s not to be forgotten that along with the game itself, the All-Star game brings festivities all weekend, including the ever-popular All-Star Draft. But to those students who are already great hockey fans themselves, the game can turn out to be a once-in-a-lifetime event that they will never forget. So whether you watch the NHL network every night, or the only hockey you’ve ever seen has been highlights of the Miracle On Ice, the 2013 All-Star game in Columbus promises to be an event to remember.