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Philadelphia deserves to host another NHL All-Star Game soon

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The NHL owes us, anyway.

The 1992 All-Star Game at the Spectrum was lit.
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It’s looking like the 2018 NHL All-Star Game will be headed to Tampa, with the Lightning hosting the 63rd edition of the game next winter.

An official All-Star Game announcement for 2018 would be the final nail in the coffin for the NHL’s participation in the Olympics, which is probably the bigger story here, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I’m here to say that it’s time Philadelphia gets an All-Star Game of our own.

The All-Star Game has been held in Philly twice. The first came in 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial events in Philadelphia, when the Wales Conference defeated the Campbell Conference, 7-5. It then returned 16 years later in 1992, when Brett Hull led the Campbell Conference to a 10-6 win.

It’s been 25 years since that last game at the Spectrum. In those 25 years, Philadelphia has had the opportunity to host basically every major hockey event:

  • 1996 World Cup of Hockey
  • 1997 and 2010 Stanley Cup Final
  • 1999 AHL All-Star Classic
  • 1996 and 2005 Calder Cup Finals
  • 2012 Winter Classic
  • 2014 NCAA Frozen Four
  • 2014 NHL Draft

The Wells Fargo Center is one of the busiest and best buildings in North America for major events, and in addition to all of these major hockey things, it’s proven it can host a lot of big stuff: two political conventions, the Women’s Final Four, an NBA All-Star Game, portions of five NCAA men’s basketball tournaments, the X Games, a billion UFC and WWE events, and most importantly, American Idol auditions in 2007.

The one glaring omission from the list is the NHL All-Star Game. The Corestates Center First Union Center Wachovia Center Wells Fargo Center is the third-oldest building in the league not to host the game yet, with United Center in Chicago and Scottrade Center in St. Louis the only ones older. (Verizon Center in Washington is a year younger, and KeyBank Center in Buffalo is the same age.)

There are plenty of other cities that have never hosted the event, and it’s expected that Las Vegas will get this event in one of their first few seasons as an NHL team. There are reportedly several others cities interested in hosting as well: Anaheim has never hosted an All-Star Game, Toronto did in 2000, and Detroit last did in 1980. The Red Wings’ new building opening this coming season could be what gets them a game sooner than later.

But screw all of those other towns. The Flyers should be on this list too.

For starters, they’ve already asked. Back in 2010, the team pitched the league as a host for both the Draft and the All-Star Game. We got the Draft in 2014, but the All-Star Game remains. There’s no real reason for the NHL to say no. Los Angeles, Minnesota, Raleigh, Ottawa, Columbus, Nashville, Montreal, and Toronto have all hosted both the Draft and All-Star events since 2000, so it’s not like this is a one-or-the-other situation.

It’s also true that the NHL kind of owes us one: four NHL teams celebrated their 50th anniversary season in 2016-17, and the other three of them were given the opportunity to host a major NHL event. The Blues got the Winter Classic, the Kings got the All-Star Game, and the Penguins got the Stadium Series game. We got the right to ... go to Pittsburgh for that outdoor game and eat their crappy sandwiches. Cool?

We’re due an event here. It obviously won’t be 2018, and I’m guessing they won’t go Eastern Conference two years in a row, so it probably won’t be 2019. But hey ... lockout pending, how’s 2020 sound?