CHICAGO – The National Hockey League is looking at holding its annual awards show in Las Vegas.
A source familiar with negotiations said Tuesday that the move would help the league make more of a splash with its season-ending gala. Everyone from sponsors to media to personnel from the NHL’s 30 teams would converge on the city, making it more of an event than it has been in recent years.
There could also be a natural tie-in with entertainment acts that hasn’t really been there in the past.
Events like this week’s Winter Classic have demonstrated to the league that it is capable of commanding more of a presence on the general sporting scene. Ideally, it would like the awards show to capture some of that buzz.
The primary reason the Vegas move has yet to be finalized is because the league has not decided exactly where the show will fall on the calendar. It has traditionally been held the week after the Stanley Cup final in June – just ahead of the entry draft.
Notably, the timing of this year’s awards show is listed as “TBA” in the NHL’s official guide and record book.
The source said the league would like the Vegas show to be held after the draft so that team representatives would be more likely to attend.
This year’s draft is scheduled for June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, which leaves a small window before the free agency period opens on July 1.
Toronto has traditionally hosted the awards show but the league is hoping that Las Vegas would draw more sponsors.
The NHL has already had discussions with The Palms Casino and Resort about hosting the event. It has also consulted its television partners about the move and received positive feedback.
The league handed out its awards in Vancouver the same weekend the city held the draft two years ago, but that was because the Turin Olympics caused the Stanley Cup final to end later than normal.
It was moved back to Toronto the following June.