Edmonton Overdue for NHL All-Star Game

This post was originally pubished on December 4th, 2016. It’s been revised with the latest news that Tampa will get the All-Star weekend.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has announced that the Tampa Bay Lightning will host the 2017 NHL All-Star Game at the Amalie Arena next season. The events will take place over the weekend of January 27-28 concluding with the game itself on Sunday. This is the second time Tampa Bay has hosted All-Star weekend, the first being 1999. That said there’s another team that is well overdue to host the NHL’s marquee event, the Edmonton Oilers.

Edmonton hosted the 40th NHL All-Star Game extravaganza 28 years ago in February 1989 at the old Northlands Coliseum. The Oilers were well represented with five players playing for the Campbell Conference squad; three of whom were named to the starting lineup. Kevin Lowe, Jari Kurri and Grant Fuhr, Mark Messier and Jimmy Carson represented the Oilers as players. Glen Sather was also the head coach of the Campbell squad.

The Campbell Conference defeated the Wales 9-5 with former Oiler Wayne Gretzky winning MVP honors. It was perfect theater, and with Edmonton playing at the brand new state of the art Rogers Place, it’s time for the Oilers to get that honor again.

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A City Fit to Entertain the Hockey World

When Oilers owner Daryl Katz took on the challenge of building a new arena, he wanted to rejuvenate a stagnant downtown core. Rogers Place might finally be done, and the Oilers and WHL Oil Kings moved in, but the surrounding ICE District amenities aren’t yet open.

The entire project is set to be complete by 2019, so the best time for the Oilers to possibly host the game might be in 2019-20. By that point, Connor McDavid will be entering his fifth season in the league and the Oilers will likely be a marquee contender in the Western Conference.

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Terry Jones (Edmonton Sun) touched on this last January and Oilers Entertainment Group CEO and Vice-Chair Bob Nicholson was quoted as saying:

We have inquired and we are working with the NHL to secure dates for both events in the future. We’ve had conversations with the league about Edmonton hosting the All-Star game and the NHL entry draft. Nothing has been confirmed to date. We would be looking at dates after the Ice District is fully open.

Bob Nicholson, OEG

The Los Angeles Kings will host the 2017 All-Star Game as part of their 50th season celebrations. For what it’s worth, 2019-20 will be the Oilers 40th season. It’s a near perfect time when you think about it. Edmonton is long overdue for a few things. They hosted the 2003 Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium, played in the one in Winnipeg this year and hosted part of the World Junior Championships in 2012. What they haven’t had in what feels like eons are 1) an all-star game and 2) the NHL Draft.

In 2020 the Oilers will be celebrating their 40th season and it’s a perfect time to host the NHL All-Star Game. (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Edmonton Ready to Host More NHL Events

Chicago is the host city for the 2017 event, and after that, it’s open season. The NHL still hasn’t officially named cities for future drafts either. Edmonton is a market that has been significantly underserved by the league’s marquee events. 2020 is going to be a big year for the Oilers, and it makes perfect sense to make a run at both events.

The Oilers will be a marquee team with superstar talent that’ll probably play in that game. The only two teams to host the All-Star Game twice are the Montreal Canadiens and now Tampa Bay. There are just six NHL cities (including Las Vegas) that haven’t hosted an All-Star game. Anaheim, Glendale (Arizona), Las Vegas, Newark (New Jersey) and Winnipeg will need an opportunity as well. Surely Las Vegas will almost immediately be a host city for both the draft and the All-Star game.

I hate to prognosticate and I even hate worse to overpromise and underdeliver. I believe that we should have a draft here, that we should have an all-star game here but I would like to see the entire ICE District complete. Because when we do that and we show off Edmonton and ICE District to the world, I’d like it to be done.

Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner

There are no current updates on plans from the OEG and or the NHL bringing events to Edmonton. But if the events were to come to Edmonton, you know the Oilers would make it one to remember.