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NHL All Star Game Hockey

Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo (right), playing for the Central Division, tracks the Pacific Division's Rickard Rakell at the 2018 NHL All-Star Game in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo)

There has been no official word from the Blues or the NHL, but St. Louis will be awarded the league’s 2020 All-Star Game at Enterprise Center.

During an early October visit to St. Louis for a Blues game and a tour of Enterprise renovations, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated that an All-Star Game wouldn’t take place here next season.

“I wouldn’t anticipate an All-Star Game here next (season),” Bettman said at the time.

But that’s no longer the case. The Post-Dispatch confirmed Thursday that St. Louis will play host to the All-Star Game in January of 2020, as first reported by The Athletic.

By then, the third and final phase of Enterprise Center renovations will be completed — with new seats and renovations in the lower bowl being the key piece of that renovation.

The Blues bid to host either the 2020 or 2021 All-Star Game back in September 2017.

In recent years, the announcement of future All-Star Game venues has taken place during NHL All-Star Weekend, set for Jan. 25-26 this season in San Jose. Bettman indicated in the fall that the announcement could come earlier this season, and indeed the announcement will be made at this season's Winter Classic game, scheduled Tuesday Jan. 1 at the University of Notre Dame.

St. Louis previously played host to the NHL All-Star Game in 1970 and 1988.

WELCOME BACK CARTER

Carter Hutton, who spent two seasons with the Blues as the backup to Jake Allen in goal, was back on Thursday as a regular starter, but now he’s with Buffalo. He signed there as a free agent in the offseason. If it hadn’t been for Allen’s struggles last season, Hutton may not have gotten the chance to show he could be a No. 1.

“I think when I left Nashville to come here,” Hutton said, “Jake was just kind of starting out younger and I was hoping for a chance to play more and it kind of worked out in my favor to play some more games and then I thought it was time for the next step to give myself a chance to play some more minutes. It’s worked out, fortunately for me. It took a lot longer, but I didn’t come out of college until I was 24, so I kind of had to pay my dues.”

Hutton said he has stayed in touch with a lot of the Blues and though he doesn’t get a chance to see many games, he remains supportive.

“I think they’re a better team than the standings show right now,” he said.

Also back on the ice for Buffalo on Thursday were former Blues Vladimir Sobotka and Tage Thompson. Patrik Berglund, as has been chronicled, agreed to terminate his contract with the Sabres.

NOT YET FOR INJURIES

Despite some pretty strong suggestions that one or more of the Blues’ injured players would be back in the lineup soon, interim coach Craig Berube stuck with the lineup he used in each of the team’s three games in western Canada before Christmas.

Berube said that Robby Fabbri was available, but that he was sticking with the 20 players who won two of three games on the trip. (Fabbri technically is still on injured reserve, though the Blues, with 22 active players at the moment and the NHL roster freeze running through midnight Thursday, didn’t need to make a move to return him to active status.) Berube said Carl Gunnarsson and Alex Pietrangelo were getting close but were not quite ready.

GOODBYE LARRY

Larry Robinson, the nine-time Stanley Cup winner and Blues consultant who has been behind the bench and on the ice as an assistant coach during the transition period after Mike Yeo was fired, has returned to consultant status.

Berube said the plan all along was for Robinson to be with the team until Christmas.

“He brought a lot of insight on the game for us, he was very good for us,” Berube said. “As coaches — and players — we really enjoyed him. We’ll miss him for sure.”

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT

Blues prospect Klim Kostin had two assists as Russia beat Denmark 4-0 in their first match at the world junior tournament in British Columbia.


Tom Timmermann is a Blues beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Jim Thomas covers Blues hockey for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.