NHL All-Stars Embrace Columbus
On Friday afternoon, the main concourse at Nationwide Arena was filled with over 100 media members eagerly waiting to interview the most talented hockey players in the world. Reporters from Montreal, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Toronto and New York, to name a few, have journeyed to Columbus to report on the NHL’s display of its most gifted and skilled players.
The All-Star weekend not only represents a great opportunity for NHL players to showcase their skill-set, it also is an opportunity for the City of Columbus to shine on national scale.
“It’s awesome that the game is in Columbus and the fans get to experience this,” said Blue Jackets All-Star Ryan Johansen. “I’ve told everyone how much there is to do in the downtown area. When I was walking home from dinner last night I could barely see the ice on the outdoor rink by the arena since there were so many people skating on it.”
Johansen is referring to the outdoor ice rink that opened in McPherson Commons across from Nationwide Arena as part of the All-Star weekend celebration. In addition to the NHL-sized rink, fans, families, and visitors can enjoy a snow slide, fire pits, food, and music all taking place in the Arena District. Over the weekend, there will also be an NHL fanfare at the Columbus Convention Center, where the Stanley Cup will be on full display.
Players and media members that do not call Columbus home consider Central Ohio to be a hidden gem.
“It is a sleeper city, it is an undercover spot,” said Kevin Weekes, a former goaltender and current television analyst for the NHL Network. “Every time I come here, I’m impressed to see how much the city continues to grow. Last night we went to Martini and it was awesome. I’ve heard people rave about Jeni’s Ice Cream so I’m going to have to check that out also.
“Even Rick Nash, the former Columbus Blue Jacket and current New York Ranger who is met with boos upon his return to Nationwide Arena, continues to rave about the city. “I always miss Columbus. I always miss the city. It holds a special place to me and my family. It always will.”
NHL players will have more time to explore the city during All-Star weekend than during a regular season game.
When a player visits an opposing city for a road game, there is little time for sightseeing.”I have never really experienced much in this city before,” said Dallas Stars Center Tyler Seguin, one of the top goal scorers in the NHL. “I definitely plan on exploring more this weekend since I’ll have some more time.”
During All-Star weekend, friends and family of many players will also be visiting Columbus to support the players and to enjoy the surrounding entertainment. Ryan Johansen’s parents along with six of his buddies will by flying into town to experience Columbus, Ohio’s first NHL All-Star weekend.
“They’re loving it. They love the whole setup.” said Johansen. “A few guys are asking where to go eat and hang out. They seemed to have enjoyed their first day in the city. They’ll get to know the city more the next couple of days.”
By the end of the weekend, the players along with their family and friends will have familiarized themselves with much of the flair and treasures that Columbus has to offer. While we will have to wait and see whether Team Foligno or Team Toews will be victorious on Sunday, the City of Columbus may be the biggest winner of them all.
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