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:

Greg Wyshynski @wyshynski

Bettman said the Tampa All-Star Game is the same week as Gasparilla so it was nice knowing you, liver.

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

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:

Chris Johnston @reporterchris

The NHL officially names Tampa as host of the 2018 all-star game. Pretty strong sign the Olympic discussions are truly over.

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."