Players would rather participate in Winter Olympics

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The 2006 NHL All-Star Game, scheduled for the Glendale Arena, was a casualty of the new collective bargaining agreement with the players' association.

The move was expected because the players have made it clear they wanted to participate in the Winter Olympics and did not want a second break in the season.

"Among the terms set forth in the hundreds of pages of the CBA is an agreement that, in those years when we participate in the Olympic Winter Games, there will be no All-Star Game," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement released by the
Phoenix Coyotes on Friday.

Bettman called the Glendale Arena, opened in December 2003, "an exceptional facility, and we are hopeful the people in Glendale will welcome us back for an All-Star weekend in the not-too-distant future."

The game and related events had been scheduled for Jan. 28-29. The Winter Olympics are Feb. 10-26 in Turin, Italy.

Coyotes president and chairman Doug Moss expressed disappointment in the cancellation of what was to be a breakout event for the arena but said the most important thing is that play will resume this year.

"We support the joint action by the league and the players and we anxiously await word from the NHL that we will be awarded another All-Star weekend," Moss said.

He said the franchise was preparing another bid to host the event.

Dallas is slated to host the 2007 game with Atlanta likely to get the 2008 event after losing out to the NHL lockout that wiped out last season.

In some ways, the cancellation is a good thing, because the Westgate Center development adjacent to the arena -- which was to be the site of many All-Star festivities -- is far behind schedule.

The new Arizona Cardinals stadium is being built across the street from the hockey arena. The stadium, scheduled to open in 2006, will be the site of the Fiesta Bowl and a separate national football championship game in early 2007, and the Super Bowl will be played there in 2008.