After canceling the event in 2013 because of a lockout, the NHL repeatedly promised to bring the All-Star Game to Columbus as soon as possible. Still there was a level of angst among fans convinced Toronto would get to host instead.
“We wanted it back,” said Mike Priest. “[Commissioner Gary Bettman] was very good about telling us, ‘We will get you one again,” but for a good while, it was just ‘again.’ They left their options open, and I understood all of that, but I didn’t want to take any chances that they’d forget about us, so we communicated often.”
That’s why, despite the league’s promise, it was still a surprise to many when Bettman appeared on the Nationwide Arena jumbotron this weekend to announce Columbus was getting the game in 2015.
“Definitely exciting,” said defenseman Ryan Murray, “I didn’t see that one coming when I was looking up at the board there.”
Now that it’s official, however, Columbus can turn its eyes to yet other prizes.
“We certainly have aspirations of an outdoor game,” admitted Priest.
Does that mean a Winter Classic-style event could land here?
“You never know,” responded Bettman, “Whether or not we could do a game at Ohio State is not something we focused on yet, but my guess is once we get through the All-Star Game, Mike will be at me right away.”
And that, as they say, is not all.
Priest told 97.1 The Fan he’s excited Nationwide Arena is a finalist to host college hockey’s Frozen Four. The men’s championship could be played here despite what Priest granted is a significant hurdle.
“The [Blue Jackets have] priority scheduling, so there are scheduling issues that come into play that are pretty difficult, and the timing of some of those events is really difficult. We try to do the best we can at working those things out.”