On Thin Ice: Controversy Behind the 2009 NHL All-Star Game Location

Brit Milazzo@@M11azzoCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2009

You lace up the skates, put on the gloves, strap on the helmet and skate onto the ice like nothing else matters.

Your world is absolutely perfect for the next couple of hours.

This is hockey; the world’s fastest game is known to some as the greatest game in the world, played by the best group of athletes on earth—the soul of the universe.

However, to most in the desert, “hockey” is a six-letter, foreign word.

“All I know about the sport is that Canadians like hockey and the Phoenix Coyotes aren’t that good,” said Madison Miller, an Arizona State University student and Phoenix native.

One would think the Coyotes would be a top team in the NHL having legendary hockey player, Wayne Gretzky as the head coach.

Yet, the team has recently had some unfortunate seasons, and has not lived up to Gretzky’s reputation.

More bad luck came to the franchise when the Jobing.com Arena, which was initially supposed to host the 2009 NHL All-Star Game, was passed over for that honor.

Having the All-Star Game hosted there, would have possibly increased the popularity of the sport in the Valley Area.

However, controversy arose over the Phoenix arena being chosen to host the game, and the NHL became increasingly reluctant to keep the game scheduled to take place in Glendale.

“Phoenix, in general, is just not a city that should host an ice hockey game, of all athletic events,” Phoenix native Brent Baker said. “It’s hot all year; we don’t get snow; people don’t play ‘pond hockey,’ here. I’m not even sure if we have ice.”

Most Valley natives agree.

“The last time I went to a Coyotes game, there was only a few thousand people, and I found myself sitting in the midst of a group of Canadians and a few kids from western New York, not people originally from Phoenix,” Baker said. “Even the girl that sold me suds said she moved to the Valley Area four-year ago from Winnipeg [Manitoba].”

The Montreal Canadiens’ arena, Bell Centre, was eventually rewarded the 2009 NHL All-Star Game, instead.

Some hockey fans feel the game would be more suitable in Montreal, because “Montreal is a hockey loving city,” 26-year-old, Mark Cesari, of Montreal said.

Some say hosting the game in Glendale would have increased the popularity of the sport in the Desert; others say it would just be a waste to have it there. Opinions vary and Canada walked away with the win, this year.

Nevertheless, the entire operations crew working for the arena did their best to persuade the NHL to keep the All-Star game in Glendale.

“If the game did work out for us this year, it would have attracted people from the Valley, in result that they would attend a few Coyotes games…we think,” Jobing.com Arena Event Manager, Kyle Olson, said. “We’re always thinking about ways to keep the money flowing in.”

According to the Associated Press, published reports have indicated that hosting the game would have brought a $20 million economic infusion to the Valley.

“Even since Glendale didn’t get to host the game this year, we were already promised by the league to have the NHL All-Star game in the next few years,” Olson said. “Our next chance is in 2012.”

Either way, the NHL All-Star game still went on with an Eastern victory.

While Phoenix didn’t get the honor of hosting the 2009 NHL All-Star Game, the sport still remains.

So, here’s to face-offs, overtime, living on the road, breakaways, black eyes, big hits, pickups, letdowns, camaraderies, adrenaline rushes, miracles, broken sticks, broken bones and broken hearts, and the greatest game in the world—hockey!


Britney Milazzo is a Contributor for Bleacher Report.