SAN JOSE, Calif. — A decade-long run as arguably the most prominent team in the NHL gave the rest of the hockey world Blackhawks fatigue, and the league seems acutely aware of it.
With the All-Star Game in non-legacy markets such as San Jose, Tampa and Nashville recently, it raises the question of why the United Center has never hosted the game in its nearly 25-year existence.
Don’t expect it anytime soon.
“We have to move things around,” commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday. “We have 31 teams, and everybody wants league events. And we’ve certainly not been bashful about including Chicago.”
Since the league began playing Winter Classics in 2008, the Hawks have played in four and hosted two of them at Wrigley Field and Notre Dame Stadium. They’ve also played in two Stadium Series games, including 2014 at Soldier Field. The United Center hosted the draft in 2017.
But that’s not enough for the Hawks. Bettman said president John McDonough “is constantly banging on the door” to put the organization in the mix for league showcases, and he praised Rocky Wirtz for being “an incredible owner.”
That’s nice and all, but the rest of the country is sick of Hawks fever.
“Chicago certainly has had its share of league events,” Bettman said. “Every time we announce an outdoor game, somebody thinks Chicago’s gonna play in it.”
That’s true. The Hawks were rumored for a spot in the 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl and the Stadium Series game at the Air Force Academy, but Bettman announced that the matchups will be Predators-Stars and Avalanche-Kings, respectively.
Next season’s All-Star Game is in St. Louis, and the league hasn’t announced sites beyond that.