Columbus is getting ready to show off, play some hockey and have a little fun come January 2015.
Thursday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson at the 11th annual Morning Sports Report hosted by the Greater Columbus Sports Commission to discuss the 2015 All-Star Game that will be held at Nationwide Arena.
"It’s important for the city," Davidson said. "NHL media come in from all over the world. It’s not just Columbus, (the All-Star festivities) will be seen all over the world."
Bettman is excited to bring the event to the capital city. He says the league plans to have events outside the game itself to involve as much of the local community as possible.
"We’ll be announcing a whole series of activities for kids and grownups," Bettman said. "Fans, even if they’re not going to the game, can feel like they’re a part of the weekend."
The city’s excitement may be amplified by a longer wait that usual to host the All-Star Game. Columbus was originally selected to host the 2013 event before an NHL work stoppage resulted in its cancellation.
When league play resumed, the NHL did not confirm Columbus would host the next All-Star Game, and there was no 2014 event slated as NHL players participated in the Sochi Olympics.
Official word came last November when Bettman travelled to Columbus to announce the 2015 game would occur at the home of the Blue Jackets.
"We’re a league that believes in honoring our commitments," Bettman said. "The integrity of our game and our word is vitally important to us.
"When a city like Columbus get behind an event or initiative, it’s important that we deliver."
With January 24-25, 2015 now confirmed dates, the city and the Blue Jackets are excited to show off what Columbus and the sport of hockey have to offer.
"For us as Blue Jackets, it’s a chance for more people that don’t understand our sport that much to see what it’s about," Davidson said. "The great players in our sport understand their responsibility and part of that is to promote the game."
Watching the quality of talent on the ice is also something both Bettman and Davidson are looking forward to.
"You’re going to see the expression of talent by these players," Davidson said. "The skill level of these guys and the speed at which they play is really quite remarkable."
Bettman is looking forward to bringing the best of the NHL to Columbus. He considers himself a proponent of the city as an NHL location since the beginning of the expansion process that brought the Blue Jackets to town.
"It’s not just words when everybody says Columbus is a great sports city," Bettman said. "We’re proud as the NHL to not only have a team here but to bring a celebration of the NHL family to the great fans of this city."
Davidson knows the city and the Blue Jackets organization is looking forward to the All-Star events.
"It’s a celebration of our sport, a celebration of the city that hosts the All-Star Game," Davidson said. "It’s just a blast."
The 2015 NHL All-Star Game and NHL Skills Competition will be held January 24-25 at Nationwide Arena. Current Blue Jackets season ticket holders will have the first opportunities to purchase tickets for the event. For more information on ticket availability, visit bluejackets.nhl.com or call 800-NHL-COLS.