Two weekends ago, Columbus Blue Jacket fans gathered outside Nationwide Arena to protest not just the awful season their team is having, but to show that they will not accept being terrible year after year.
Now, in true NHL fashion, the league has awarded the all-star game to none other than Columbus.
Not only is this a slap in the face for Columbus fans, but it also sends a message to the rest of the League: The All-star game is a money-grab game played with a grain of salt, and it will be used to keep the weaker franchises in check.
The All-star game does represent a high source of income for a franchise because of huge sponsor dollars and all the media attention garnered by having that many star players in town simultaneously. Up until a few years ago, it was the premier event for hockey fans to follow and look forward to. But, now that the “Winter Classic” exists and is covered by HBO’s 24/7 series, the Classic has quickly become the new standard for hockey fans and by far the largest single-watched game of the regular season.
With that in mind, This is made even more disrespectful by Bettman’s response (or lack thereof) to Columbus ever receiving the Winter Classic “We just did the all-star game, You want more right now?”
The All-star game is now the bone you toss to dejected teams dealing with a miserable season, to help cope with the next 30 games. All of which are going to be painful for Columbus fans. Despite the foot stomping and anger directed towards the franchise, there are no signs of the team getting blown up and starting from scratch (a necessary step to get this franchise moving in the right direction).
But, as Bettman says, he would rather hear boo’s from the crowd than silence, because at least it shows that they care. It’s just too bad that all those emotions garner is a look of distaste from the management and having to watch the Winter Classic go to Detroit (vs. Toront0); the underlying statement being that Columbus won’t be involved until they are a successful team and will just have to be happy with what they can get.