Sources: Lightning Expected To Host '18 NHL All-Star Game Barring Late Setback
The Lightning are "expected to host" the '18 NHL All-Star Game, though a deal to bring the game back to Tampa for the first time since '99 has yet to be officially announced, according to sources cited by Greg Wyshynski of YAHOO SPORTS. There has been "speculation that the lack of an NHL All-Star Game host announcement meant the NHL was hedging on its vow not to send players" to the '18 PyeongChang Games. However, holding the All-Star Game was "always part of the contingency plan in case a deal with the IOC couldn’t be struck." The Lightning have been "chasing a big NHL event for some time." Team Owner Jeff Vinik has "invested heavily" in the club, Amalie Arena and the downtown Tampa area as well -- "always an incentive for the NHL to give something back to a franchise" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/16). SPORTSNET's Elliotte Friedman noted at February's All-Star Weekend in L.A., it was believed the next All-Star game "would be held in a Western Conference city, but there are rumblings the league went southeast instead." The official awarding of the game "will be announced" with the full '17-18 schedule release (SPORTSNET.ca, 5/16). In Tampa, Joe Smith notes one potential "wrinkle" to holding the event at Amalie Arena is the annual Gasparilla Festival, which "draws several hundred thousand people" to the region and is set for the "same Jan. 28 weekend of the All-Star Game" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/17).