If you’ve followed NoVa Caps for any significant amount of time then you’re probably well aware that we not only support the fan’s voice, but we strongly encourage it. One of the ways we do this is by providing an opinion platform for the fan’s voice. Our latest reader’s opinion submittal comes from Savanah Reger, who thinks it’s time the NHL All-Star game comes back to Washington.
On Tuesday the National Hockey League announced that the 2021 NHL All-Star game will take place in Sunrise, Florida, the home of the Florida Panthers. It was a surprise to many, as the Panthers fanbase is not the ideal one to host the All-Star game. That begs the question though: What is the NHL looking for in regards to hosting the All-Star game?
Are they looking for a place that people are going to want to travel too? In that case, Florida, Tampa and the California teams that have had it in recent years would make sense. However, does St. Louis and Nashville fit that criteria? Does the NHL want a popular team to host the All-Star game so that some of the big stars can be seen. Again, Tampa makes sense, but does Florida? To an extent, does Nashville?
Whatever the criteria is though, the Washington Capitals should be in the running for the next NHL All-Star game and there are many reasons why. Thinking back to the questions stated above, is D.C a place people want to travel too? Well maybe the weather in January wouldn’t be appealing, but it is the capital of the United States and the NHL draws a big market from the Caps.
What about if the NHL wants a popular team to host its elite mid-January event? Well, again, the Caps would be an easy go to. With players like Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vezina winning goalie Braden Holtby in D.C, wouldn’t it be a good fit?
Then there is Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and John Carlson. Three stellar players in the league that need no introduction. Backstrom, who has an All-Star appearance to his name back in 2016 in Nashville. One of the most underrated players in the league, Backstrom is currently 27th in the league in assists, even with missing time for injury, and has been Ovechkin’s go to guy ever since he came into the league.
What about on defense though? That’s where possible Norris Trophy candidate John Carlson comes in. Carlson is currently first in the NHL for assists for defensemen and is tied for third in the league in assists in general with 47. He leads all NHL defensemen in points with 60 so far on the year, and just became the first Capitals defensemen in franchise history to score a goal at the NHL All-Star game. Finally, if he does win the Norris, he would be the first Caps player to do it since Rod Langway in 1983 and 1984.
Who could forget the real reason though the NHL could be interested in D.C as a possible host location. That is their captain of 10 years in Alex Ovechkin. Ever since Ovechkin was drafted 2004, the league knew he would be a star and has certainly lived up to his expectations. Not only does Ovechkin seem to break a new record every time he steps out on the ice, he has something now that he didn’t two years ago: a Stanley Cup.
A Stanley Cup victory as well as a Conn Smythe Trophy puts Ovechkin above the others, but he also owns six Rocket Richard trophies, three Hart trophies, three Ted Lindsay Awards, and in relevance to this argument, eight NHL All-Star appearances.
However, there could be more apparences to his name. The last two seasons, Ovechkin has been selected as the captain of the Metropolitan Division for the All-Star game, and he has opted not to come. Ovechkin has the right to rest, but it doesn’t look good on the NHL when a captain opts not to go, as his impact is even bigger than if a regular player opted not to go.
There is a way to get the Capitals captain to attend the All-Star game: that is to put it in D.C.. Ovechkin wouldn’t just say no to the NHL if it was in his town, where he would have his house and his family, and he could just drive home at the end of the day, instead of having to fly back home. The fans of D.C would want to see their captain at his arena for the All-Star game, and if the NHL wants Ovechkin to finally say yes, then they need to put it in Washington D.C.
Even though the players are good in D.C, that is only partially the criteria stated earlier. The city needs the fanbase and the ability to host the game, and D.C is the perfect option. Earlier this past year, Capital One Arena updated all of their screens to make it bigger and better, as well as new seats were added the year prior. Capitals One Arena has the upgrades to host this NHL event.
The fanbase was also mentioned, and the Caps easily have it. Back in 2018, Caps fans filled the street rooting for their team as they made their Stanley Cup run. When the team was away, fans filled Capital One Arena like it was a home game to root for their Caps. Fans lined the streets when the parade happened and tears flowed through their eyes when Ovechkin was the first Cap in history to lift the Stanley cup. That’s what a true fan base does.
A true fan base also knows the game, the players and the rivalies. Ask any Caps fan who the team’s biggest rival is and it’ll be a quick response: the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby alone would bring in the views if the game was in D.C, and all Caps fans would love their chance to sprinkle the Penguins and any other metro teams with boo’s during introductions. The last Metro team to host the game was Columbus in 2015, a game that was originally supposed to be played in 2013.
The Caps have the fanbase, they have the Stanley Cup to their name and a recent cup while at it. They have the stars and the talent and they have the arena to show for it. The fanbase is ready for an All-Star game and the city of D.C is ready for an all star game.
Looking at the question asked earlier: What is the NHL looking for in a host? Do they have the talent? Well certainly in the Caps case with Ovechkin, Backstrom, Carlson and Holtby. Is this city going to attract other people to it? It is in the nation’s capital for one, and since all the Metro cities are close together, it wouldn’t be a horrible trip for lots of people. Is this a good team? Right now on paper the Caps are the best team in the league and it was only two years ago that the Caps won the Cup. That sounds like a solid team.
The Caps have the pieces, the town and the fanbase. Now it is just up to the NHL. Should you give it to a team who has never had one before, has the talent and has the ring to show for it? Or should you give it to a team that is under the radar and is still developing? NHL, it’s up to you, but the Caps should be an easy pick for the next All-Star game.
By Savannah Reger