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With the recent announcement that the San Jose Sharks will be the hosts of the 2019 NHL All-Star Game, and the conclusion of a memorable weekend in Tampa Bay, the thought among some Capitals fans (certainly myself) may drift to when the Capitals will get the opportunity to once again host one of the most popular games of the NHL season.
Many longtime and diehard fans may recall that the Caps did host the star-studded spectacle in 1982. To put that much time into perspective, current Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik was the only player on the team’s current roster that was alive when the Caps hosted the 1982 All-Star Game at the Capital Centre (it’s important to note that the Capital Centre was in Landover, Maryland, not D.C.), and even then, was only two-years old. And while much goes into hosting an All-Star Game, if there is one man who would be able to bring the NHL’s star-studded contest to the District, Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis would be it.
Since purchasing the Capitals from the late Abe Pollin in 1999, Leonsis has overseen a rebuild that turned the Capitals into a perennial contender, the growth of the fanbase, the continued development and success of Capital One Arena (formerly the Verizon Center and MCI Center), the construction and completion of a state-of-the-art practice facility, as well as the Capitals’ inclusion in the 2011 NHL Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, their hosting of the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Park, and in just a few weeks, the Capitals’ first appearance in a Stadium Series game in Annapolis, Maryland.
In 2014, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly hinted that D.C. could see the All-Star Game in the future when asked by season ticket holders: “I would say in the foreseeable future, yes”, per The Washington Post.
“There isn’t at this point,” Daly said, when asked if the NHL had a timetable for awarding Washington D.C. an All-Star game. “We do have — the way we do the All-Star game is we put it out for applications to the member clubs. This organization historically was focused on the Winter Classic and getting the Winter Classic. I think once we have a successful event on Jan. 1, I’m sure they’ll turn to the next event that they want. I have no doubt the All-Star Game will be in line soon.”
Which brings us back to Leonsis. It is well-documented that soon after puck drop in the very first Winter Classic in 2008, the Caps’ owner began what would become a series of emails to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about the Capitals hosting a Winter Classic, and his persistence eventually paid off in 2015. There is no reason to think that the same could happen with an All-Star Game. Leonsis’ determination has added so many memorable special events and/or games to the Caps’ already rich history. The one thing missing could be an All-Star spectacle in the Nation’s Capital.
By Michael Fleetwood