AHL Looks To Boost Appeal Of '14 All-Star Game By Competing Against European Club
AHL President Dave Andrews yesterday formally announced the St. John's IceCaps would be hosting the '14 AHL All-Star Game at Mile One Centre, and it will be the first time a team of AHL All-Stars "will be taking on a club team from Europe," according to Brendan McCarthy of the St. John's TELEGRAM. The AHL All Stars on Feb. 12 will face Farjestad BK, which has "won four Swedish Elite League championships in the past dozen years." Andrews said that it "won't be a permanent format change," but added that '14 being an Olympic year "provides a 'terrific window' for this sort of matchup." Andrews: "It's the first week of Olympic games. There is no NHL hockey being played during that week and there will be no Olympic hockey in terms of national television." Andrews noted that the IceCaps had "committed to hosting the all-star game even if there was a traditional game featuring two teams of all-stars drawn from the 30 NHL clubs." However, IceCaps COO Glenn Stanford said his club "had pushed hard to have a European team involved." IceCaps President & CEO Danny Williams said that there was "much logic behind the decision, noting St. John's is 'geographically closer to Europe than other AHL cities.'" IceCaps season-ticket holders will "get first shot at tickets, which will be good for both the AHL All-Star Game and the skills competition." Tickets will cost $100 and "probably go on sale in November." But Williams noted that after "allowing for the expected demand from season-ticket holders, and commitment to corporate sponsors, he isn't sure how many, if any, will be available" (St. John's TELEGRAM, 9/11).
FRESH TAKE: In Rochester, Kevin Oklobzija wrote the format "has potential." When the AHL revived the ASG in '95, the "first few games were actually entertaining." But in the "years that followed, the intensity dropped significantly ... and regardless of the monetary incentive to win, the mid-season showcase had lost its luster." Playing a team from a European league "at least has potential to get guys a little excited to play." There might be "an us-against-them, our-hockey-is-better-than-yours approach." Oklobzija: "Maybe not, but at least the potential does exist" (DEMOCRATANDCHRONICLE.com, 9/10).