Ottawa Senators awarded 2012 All-Star game

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Ottawa Senators were named hosts of the 2012 National Hockey League's All-Star game on Wednesday, which will mark the second time in three years that the mid-season showcase will be held in a Canadian city.

The Senators, the only Canadian team to not have previously held the weekend of hockey-themed festivities, will host the event January 28-29, 2012.

"Ottawa and the Senators have distinguished themselves in hosting the Stanley Cup Final and two NHL entry drafts, and I have no doubt they will provide an outstanding welcome," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

The NHL's All-Star weekend includes a skills competition and other hockey-themed events capped by an exhibition game between the game's top players.

The league did not have an All-Star game this year because of the Vancouver Olympics. Montreal hosted the event in 2009 and the 2011 edition was awarded to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Ottawa, which will be celebrating its 20th season in the NHL the year it holds the All-Star Game, hosted the NHL Entry Draft in 2005 and 2008 and also played in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007.

"We will create a once-in-a-lifetime, weekend long celebration of all that is great about hockey, the NHL and our city," Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said in a statement.

According to Ottawa Tourism, the event could pump more than $30 million worth of economic activity into the region given the expected increases in tourism and hotel rooms used.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina. Editing by Frank Pingue; To query or comment on this story email