Ottawa Senators named hosts of the 2012 all-star game festivities

OTTAWA – Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza made his lone NHL all-star game appearance in 2008. He would love to play in another one in 2012.

“I think you always want to try and play well enough to be part of something like this, but it definitely makes it more special if you can play in an all-star game in your home city,” Spezza said Wednesday, after the NHL announced that the Senators will host the 2012 all-star game festivities.

“My initial thought when I saw the game was going to be in Ottawa was that it would be great to play in front of your home crowd in something special like that. It is a few years away, but it’s something that’s great for the city.”

The 2012 all-star weekend will run Jan. 26-29. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement.

Word first broke last week and, after holding the 2005 and 2008 entry drafts and an attendance record-breaking 2009 world junior championship, Ottawa was believed to be next in line for the festivities.

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The completion of the Ottawa Convention Centre next year was believed to be one of the final requirements needed in order to land the event for the first time.

It will be part of the NHL team’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

“We’ve proven over and over again that we can put on a world-class event,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, whose Ontario Hockey League team, the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, will host this season’s Memorial Cup.

“If you speak to the people at Hockey Canada, the people that saw what we did to the world juniors, they will tell you that, by far, it was the most successful world juniors ever put on or staged anywhere in the world at any time in history,” Melnyk said. “So we’re going to try and raise the bar for everybody else.”

The Carolina Hurricanes are playing host to this season’s all-star game.