Major League Baseball just put on a very nice tribute to Willie Mays at the All Star game in San Francisco. It made me think about the NHL's event and look up the plans for future ones. The 2008 NHL All Star game will be in Atlanta, 2009 in Montreal and there will not be one in 2010 due to the Olympics in Vancouver. Atlanta's is a make-good for the 1995 game that was cancelled due to the lockout that season.
Ok, that is just silly.
First off, it made sense for 1995 - to help a young franchise gain publicity in its franchise. Now its pointless ... the team already has its fanbase and is no longer a novelty in town so casual sports fans in Georgia aren't going to all-of-a-sudden flock to the Thrashers because of an All Star game. The game is less a event for a fans and one more for the league to entertain and thank their sponsors. To better achieve that it should be held in a nicer place than Atlanta - rich people don't want a comped vacation to the home of Coca Cola, they want to go to NY, LA or Florida (as its in the winter). The 2009 choice of Montreal is a good one as it will celebrate the franchise's 100th birthday and cancelling the game in 2010 will help scheduling with the premier hockey event going on in the Olympics.
Without any consequences added to the All Star game (baseball has home field in the World Series on the line), the least the league can do is host the game in a nice place. The NFL places it in Hawaii after the season, which may be a nice option for the NHL, as would be Las Vegas like the NBA did last year - and the NHL will likely bring a few less gang-bangers and hoodlums so it may actually work out. Another idea I really think the NHL should try is placing the game overseas immediately after the season - put the game in Stockholm, Prague or Moscow. Sponsors will enjoy the exotic vacation and the NHL foreign players from that country will be hailed as heroes. How can that be a bad thing?