2018 NHL All-Star Game to Be Played in Tampa Bay Lightning's Amalie Arena

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2017

May 18, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; An overview of Amalie Arena prior to game three of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Penguins. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL announced Monday the Tampa Bay Lightning will host the 2018 NHL All-Star Game.

"We are thrilled to host the 2018 NHL All-Star Game at Amalie Arena," Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said in a statement on NHL.com. "We've worked hard over the past several years to transform Tampa Bay into a hockey market. The honor of hosting the All-Star game validates that work, but it's not the end of our efforts. We pledge to work alongside the NHL as well as leaders across Tampa Bay to deliver a world class experience for All-Star players, fans and partners."

This marks the second time Amalie Arena will house an All-Star Game. In 1999, fans in Tampa, Florida, saw Team North America beat Team World 8-6, with Wayne Gretzky winning MVP. 

Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski‏ noted the 2018 All-Star Game will coincide with the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa:

Beyond naming a host for next year's All-Star Game, Monday's news likely carries major significance regarding the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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The NHL confirmed in April it didn't intend to release its players for the Olympics, which begin Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. However, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman wrote in May that some people remained hopeful about NHL participation in the Olympics since the league had yet to formally announce 2018 All-Star plans.

Sportsnet's Chris Johnston believes that door is now shut:

Hosting the 2018 All-Star Game is a big achievement for the Lightning, and captain Steven Stamkos described it as a "long time coming," per the Tampa Bay TimesJoe Smith.

"It's obviously a testament to what Mr. Vinik has done in our city, and our organization," Stamkos said. "It's a huge honor to host an even like that. It's just an opportunity to show what a great city we have and how great of a fanbase we have to the rest of the league."

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