The Capitals are just the seventh NHL team to welcome the Winter Classic, but Washington D.C. is also one of five NHL cities to never host an All-Star game. Sure, the Capitals hosted in 1982 in Landover, Md., but the event has never come into the nation’s capital. Speaking to season ticket holders Tuesday night at Verizon Center, answering a fan’s question about bringing the All-Star game here, deputy commissioner Bill Daly offered an encouraging response.
“I would say, in the foreseeable future, yes,” Daly said.
Only the next two hosts have been announced: Columbus hosts on Jan. 25, 2015, and Nashville on Jan. 31, 2016. And though all administrative attention will be focused on the Winter Classic this month, Daly hinted that, once the rink gets dismantled at Nationals Park and Jan. 2 rolls around, he expects some moves from Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.
“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.”
For now, though, the focus remains on New Years’ Day. Epix will arrive at Kettler Capitals Iceplex to set up Wednesday, then start their all-access, behind-the-scenes look later this week. Ten of Washington’s remaining 13 games this month will be spent on the road. Then, after visiting the Islanders on Dec. 29, the Capitals will return home and start skating outside.
“I think the league generally, not just me, is excited for the event,,” Daly said. “We always are. It’s probably the most anticipated date on the NHL regular season calendar. It’s become that. I think all eyes are going to be on the nation’s capital on Jan. 1. We’ve been able to carve out a unique niche on that day, kind of our own little window where we have national prominence. That itself is pretty exciting.”
As for this year’s All-Star game, only forward Alex Ovechkin ranked among the top 40 forwards, top 30 defensemen and top 10 goaltenders after the second week of fan voting, according to the NHL. Ovechkin’s 54,319 votes puts him at 17th for his position.