The NHL All-Star Game is an exhibition ice hockey game that is traditionally held at the midway point of the regular season of the National Hockey League (NHL) with many of the League's star players playing against each other.
The All-Star Game's proceeds benefit the pension fund of the players.
On November 18, 2015, the NHL announced significant changes to the All-Star Game format, starting with the 2016 game: instead of one game pitted against two teams, there will be three games of 10-minute halves each, with four All-Star teams based on the league's four divisions.
The Atlantic Division All-Stars will face the Metropolitan Division All-Stars while the Central Division All-Stars will play against the Pacific Division All-Stars. The winners of these two games will then meet in an All-Star Game Final.
The format for all three games will be three-on-three. If a tie remains after 20 minutes, then it will directly go to a three-round shootout plus extra rounds as needed to determine the winner; there is no standard overtime.
From 1947 to 1968, the All-Star Game primarily saw the previous season's Stanley Cup champions take on a team of All-Stars from the other clubs.
There were two exceptions during this period: The 1951 and 1952 games instead featured two teams of All-Star players, one consisting of players on American-based teams and the other with players consisting of players on Canadian-based teams.
Beginning in 1969, the format was geographic with the Wales/Eastern Conference All-Stars played the Campbell/Western Conference All-Stars where the "first team" (or starting line, including the starting goaltender) were voted in by fans while the remainder of the teams' rosters are chosen by the NHL's Hockey Operations Department in consultation with the teams' general managers.
Since 1996, the head coaches for the two All-Star teams have been the coaches of the two teams that are leading their respective conferences in point percentage (i.e. fraction of points obtained out of total possible points). Prior policy saw the two head coaches that appeared in the previous year's Stanley Cup Finals coaching the All-Star teams.
The 1998 All-Star Game was held in the very same year as the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, providing the NHL to show its players from all over the world.
To this extent, the NHL had the All-Star teams consist of a team of North Americans playing against a team of stars from the rest of the world. The North America vs. World All-Star format lasted through the 2002 Game, the same year as the 2002 Winter Olympics, before reverting to the Eastern vs. Western Conference format in 2003.
During the 2010–11 NHL season, the NHL announced a change to the way the teams were selected, modeled after drafts in fantasy sports. The conference vs. conference (i.e. East vs. West) approach was replaced by a player draft conducted by the All-Star players themselves to determine the rosters for each team.
The captains for each team now select players from a combined pool of both fan balloting and the NHL Hockey Operations Department. The change in format was a joint effort by the League and the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA). This format lasted through the 2015 game.
The All-Star Game is preceded by the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, a competition showing the various talents of both the all-stars.
Beginning in 2007, the All-Star weekend also featured the NHL YoungStars Game, an exhibition game exclusively featuring rookies, playing under slightly modified rules. In 2011, this game was eliminated in favor of having the rookies compete in the skills competition.
The first official All-Star Game was held during the 1947–48 NHL season. Prior to that, there have been several occasions when benefit games and All-Star Games were played.
Hod Stuart Benefit All-Star GameEdit
The first All-Star game in ice hockey predates the NHL. It was played on January 2, 1908, before 3,500 fans at the Montreal Arena between the Montreal Wanderers and a team of All-Stars players from the teams the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association.
It was held in memory of Montreal Wanderers player Hod Stuart, who had drowned three months after the Wanderers won the Stanley Cup in 1907. The proceeds of that game (over $2,000) went to Stuart's family.
Ace Bailey Benefit GameEdit
On December 12, 1933, Toronto's King Clancy tripped Boston's Eddie Shore and in retaliation, Shore hit the Leafs' Ace Bailey from behind, flipping him over backwards. Bailey hit his head on the ice so hard that a priest in attendance gave him last rites. Bailey lived for almost 60 more years, but his playing career was over. Shore was suspended for 16 games of a 48-game season for the hit.
As a benefit for Bailey and his family, the NHL held its first ever All-Star game on February 14, 1934.
The game was held at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, during which Bailey's #6 uniform was retired by the Leafs. It was the first number to be retired in the NHL. The game saw the Leafs battle against an All-Star team made of players from the other seven teams, which the Leafs won 7–3.
One of the more memorable moments before the game was when Bailey presented Shore with his All-Star jersey, showing to the public that Bailey had clearly forgiven him for his actions. Bailey also presented a trophy to NHL President Frank Calder before the game in the hope that the trophy would go to the winner of an annual All-Star Game for the benefit of injured players.
Howie Morenz Memorial GameEdit
Howie Morenz was one of the NHL's superstars of the 1930s. However, his career, and eventually life, ended in a game between his Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Black Hawks on January 28, 1937, at the Montreal Forum.
In that game, Morenz was checked by Chicago player Earl Seibert into the boards in what seemed like a normal hit. However, as the boards were made of wood at the time, his leg shattered in five separate locations above the ankle.
Moretz was carried off the ice on a stretcher to a hospital where he would stay for four and a half weeks until his death from a heart attack. At one time, one visitor noted that it was as if a party was being held inside of his hospital room (complete with whiskey and beer).
Morenz died on March 8th the same year from (as teammate Aurele Joliat put it) "a broken heart" (He suffered a heart attack the night before). Morenz's #7 sweater, which had been hanging in its usual stall while he was in hospital was finally retired for good.
While Morenz was in the hospital, plans for a game for Morenz's benefit were already under way. However, the game was not as successful as Bailey's game, partially because it took place many months after Morenz's passing (on November 3 at the Forum) and partially because Morenz had not survived.
The game saw two All-Star teams, the first being a team of stars from the Canadiens and the Montreal Maroons, the second being an All-Star team made of players from the other teams, with the latter team winning 6–5.
Babe Siebert Memorial GameEdit
On August 25, 1939 Babe Siebert (former player of the Montreal Canadiens) drowned in Lake Huron. To benefit his family, the Canadiens and Montreal Maroons organized a benefit that was held on October 29, 1939, at the Montreal Forum.
Six-thousand fans attended a game between the Canadiens and the "NHL All-Stars", raising CA$15,000 (CA$247,013 in 2017 dollars) for Siebert's family. The All-Stars won the game 5–2.
Despite Bailey's hopes of an annual All-Star Game, it did not become an annual tradition until the 1947-48 NHL season.
In 1966, the All-Star Game was moved from the start of the season to its current position in the middle of the season.
In 1979, the Challenge Cup series replaced the game and in 1987 it was replaced with Rendez-vous '87.
Lockouts disrupted the NHL season in 1995, 2005 and 2013 and resulted in the cancellation of the game in those years.
As part of the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that expired in 2014, the NHL agreed with the NHLPA not to hold an All-Star Game during Winter Olympic years, consequently the contest was cancelled in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
Both parts of Bailey's vision would, however, come true: The first game of the annual tradition, and the first official NHL All-Star Game, would be played in Maple Leaf Gardens, on October 13, 1947.
The format of the All-Star Game (which remained the same with two exceptions until the 1967–68 NHL season) called for the defending Stanley Cup champions to play against a selection of players from the other five teams.
For the first year, the All-Stars were a team composed of the First and Second NHL All-Star Teams (not to be confused with the All-Stars that played against the Cup champions), as well as three players from the New York Rangers and one player each from the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Black Hawks.
For the Game, the Gardens facilities were upgraded to use glass on the boards (in an era where wire fences were the norm), a point that fans complained about as the sounds of the checks were somewhat muted.
In what would be another tradition, the defending Stanley Cup champions were presented before the game with various gifts that included sweater coats, golf balls, cigarette boxes, ties, cufflinks, pocket knives, watches and lifetime passes to Maple Leaf Gardens. All-in-all, the game was a success, with the All-Stars winning 4–3.
Although the All-Star Game called for the defending Cup champion to host it, the game was held in Chicago Stadium in its second year as a consequence of the negotiations that set up the first game.
Also as a peculiarity as a result of the scheduling, the game was held not before the season started (as was the case before and would be for almost 20 years following the game), but three weeks into the season.
Like the year before, players from the First and Second NHL All-Star teams were automatically awarded spots on the All-Star Game rosters (an exception was Leafs goaltender Turk Broda, having won the Cup, played for the Leafs instead) with the rest of the all-stars being assembled so that each team was represented with at least three players on the All-Stars. As for the game itself, the All-Stars had won 3–1 with all scoring coming in the second period.
The defending Stanley Cup champions would win their first All-Star Game in 1950 by a 7–1 margin, thanks to Detroit's Production Line and the fact that five of the First and Second NHL All-Star teams were Red Wings.
Because of the one-sidedness of the game, many fans and hockey insiders considered options on how to make the All-Star Game more balanced, including one where the All-Star Game was eliminated altogether in favour of a best-of-nine Stanley Cup Final with the proceeds of two of the games going to the players' pension fund and one which saw a Canadian Teams vs. American Teams format (a somewhat flawed concept in that nearly all NHL players of the era, whether playing for teams representing American or Canadian cities, were Canadians).
Ultimately, the 5th NHL All-Star Game saw the First NHL All-Star team battle the Second, with the players filling out the First team being from American teams and the Second team being filled with either Hab or Leaf players. The Game ended in a 2–2 tie, leaving many fans upset for the second straight year.
The same format of First vs. Second with the First team being augmented by players from American teams and the Second being augmented by Leaf or Hab players continued the next year, but the 6th All-Star Game proved to be 60 minutes of boring hockey as the teams skated to a 1–1 tie.
Criticisms of this new format (as well as the boring hockey) was what made the NHL revert the format of the All-Star Game to its original incarnation.
Some of the criticisms included the fact that teammates often opposed each other in the All-Star Game under the new format, and some stated that the early date of the game was detrimental to the exposure of the NHL in the States, being held at the same time as the World Series and the National Football League (NFL) season.
In what would be later a reality, Toronto Star columnist Red Burnett suggested that the game should be played mid-season and that fans should choose their starting lineup, a system which had long been in use in the States with regard to Major League Baseball (MLB).
The Game was moved from the start of the season to mid-season in the 1966–67 NHL season as part of the move to promote the NHL to six new cities who would have their own teams (in October 1967).
Because of the move to mid-season, the method of player selection for the All-Stars, largely unchanged for 20 years, was much scrutinized as playing the All-Star Game mid-season meant that the First and Second All-Star teams were decided almost a full year before the game itself and that by mid-season, the Cup winners were a vastly different team from the team that had won the Cup some eight or nine months before.
The mid-season move also meant that rookies with outstanding first years (such as Bobby Orr) would be shut out of the Game even if they deserved a spot on the All-Stars.
The 21st All-Star Game one year later was somber compared to the 20 before it as the days before the game were tragic.
On January 14, 1968, two days before the game, Bill Masterton had been checked by two Oakland Seals players and died from his on-ice injuries. The game itself was overshadowed by the debate on whether helmets should be worn in the NHL in the fallout of Masterton's untimely death.
As in the previous years, the All-Stars were represented by the First and Second All-Star teams as well as enough players so that each team was represented.
The East-West format of future All-Star Games was announced in the 21st All-Star Game with the intention of being able to move the game anywhere, alternating home ice between an East division team and a West division team year after year.
The idea (along with the notion that the players chosen for the two All-Star teams should be the best at the time of the game rather than the best of the players from the season before) quickly gained popularity, although the Cup champions reserved the right to host the 22nd All-Star Game.
The St. Louis Blues became the first Western host of the All-Star Game the following year. The 26th All-Star Game was the first in which the game MVP received a car as a prize.
In 1978 (amidst renewed interest in international hockey), the NHL decided to replace the 1979 All-Star Game with a three-game series where the League's top playeres played against the Soviet Union's top players in the Challenge Cup which was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The Challenge Cup was being touted as a miniature world championship, and for the first time, fans could vote for certain members of the roster. The NHL would lose the three-game series two games to one with the third game being lost by an embarrassing 6–0 margin.
Over the next few years, various aspects of the All-Star Game came under scrutiny, including the format of the game. To make things worse, the All-Star Game itself was viewed in some circles as a bad thing, with players opting out of the game in favour of the rest and prospective hosts repeatedly declining to host the event.
With the geographical realignment of the NHL for the 1981-82 NHL season, the 1982 All-Star Game was the first between the Wales and Campbell Conferences that featured players from eastern teams against players from western teams.
The 37th All-Star Game in 1985 marked the first time that honorary captains were selected for each team.
The Game also brought forth the notion of fan balloting of the starting lineup (already adopted in the NBA and by this time had returned (following a hiatus brought on by ballot box stuffing) to MLB; the NFL gave the fans the vote in the 1990s) as the game was suffering from having little media coverage. The idea came into fruition the following year.
In 1987, the All-Star Game was pre-empted in favour of Rendez-vous '87 (which was held at Le Colisée in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada).
Like the Challenge Cup before it, Rendez-Vous '87 was an event where the best the NHL could offer played against a Soviet squad which had an entire year to prepare. To reduce the possibility of the NHL being embarrassed again, Rendez-Vous '87 was a two-game affair. The series was split between the two teams with a game won by each.
During the series, NHL President John Ziegler stated that Soviet players would never be able to join the NHL because of the way the Soviet hockey programme worked and that NHLers would never be able to play in the Winter Olympics. Soviet players would be allowed to play in the NHL within three years and an arrangement that would allow NHL players to play in the Olympics was announced within nine.
The NHL All-Star Skills Competition and the Heroes of Hockey game were both introduced in the 41st All-Star Game in 1990.
The Heroes of Hockey game featured NHL alumni and was set up much like the main game, with Wales vs. Campbell. However, it should be noted that many of these players retired before the introduction of the Wales and Campbell Conferences.
Future Heroes of Hockey games would have the hometown alumni play against the "best-of-the-rest" much like the all-star games of old. The 42nd All-Star Game introduced, as part of the player selection, two players chosen by the commissioner to honor their years to their game.
With the renaming of conferences and divisions on a geographical basis for the 1993-94 NHL season, the 1994 All-Star Game was the first between East & West in name since 1974 although the Wales vs. Campbell format pitted east against west from 1982 to 1993.
The All-Star Game in 1995 was a casualty of the 1994-95 NHL lockout (which shortened that season to just 48 regular season games). San Jose (the originally scheduled venue) was instead awarded the 1997 All-Star Game.
The 48th All-Star Game in 1998 featured the first change in format in years in an attempt to promote the first Olympic hockey tournament with participation from NHL players.
From 1998 to 2002, a team of North American All-Stars faced a team of non-North Americans, known as the World All-Stars.
Some critics suggested replacing the game with a miniature national tournament in the style of the World Cup of Hockey. Some fans were unhappy with a team consisting of 75% Canadian players being labeled "North America."
The "First International Showdown", as it was billed, resulted in the North American All-Stars winning 8–7.
The 2003 Game's format was reverted to its classic East vs. West format.
Dany Heatley scored four goals, tying an All-Star Game record (in addition to recording a shootout goal). He also set the record for being the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the All-Star Game, a record previously held by the Edmonton Oilers' Wayne Gretzky.
This shootout (the first of its kind in the NHL in the modern era) received an enthusiastic, frenzied response from the crowd when it was announced, and carried on during the event. This was influential in the later decision to decide regular season games tied after overtime with a shootout, thus eliminating tie games.
The All-Star Game was dealt two serious blows in 2005.
Not only was the game canceled along with the rest of the season as a result of the 2004-05 NHL lockout, but the subsequent CBA that ended the lockout stipulated that heretofore the game was to be held only in non-Olympic years. Thus, there was no All-Star Game held during the 2005–06 NHL season.
After a two-season absence, the 2007 Game was played in Dallas, Texas where the West defeated the East, 12–9. Daniel Briere of the Buffalo Sabres recorded a goal and four assists and was named the Game's MVP.
The Atlanta Thrashers hosted the 2008 Game as they had been originally scheduled to host the canceled Game in 2005.
The Eastern Conference won the Game 8–7 on a late game-winning goal by Marc Savard with 20.9 seconds remaining in the third period, beating St. Louis Blues goaltender Manny Legace. Eric Staal was named the MVP.
In 2009, the Bell Centre (the home of the Montreal Canadiens) hosted the Game as well as the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. In the Game, the Eastern Conference defeated the Western Conference 12–11 in a shootout (east 2/3 west 0/2).
Approximately 21,000 people attended the game, where then-Canadien Alexei Kovalev was named the Game's MVP after scoring two goals and one assist, as well as the shootout winner. Montreal fans voted Kovalev into the starting lineup, in addition to teammates Andrei Markov, Carey Price and Mike Komisarek.
The Canadiens were picked to host both events because the Montreal Canadiens team celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009. The team was established in 1909 as a founding member of the National Hockey Association (NHA) which became the NHL in 1917.
A small number of All-Star players questioned their potential participation in 2009. Past and current All-Stars must obtain an excused absence (often related to injury or personal circumstances) by the League if they will not participate. If this approved absence is not obtained, a one-game regular season suspension is possible.
There was no All-Star Game in 2010 because of both a change to the CBA and 2010 being an Olympic Games year—the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver marked the first time that the Olympics had been hosted in an NHL market since the League allowed its players to compete in the Olympics.
The 2011 All-Star Game was played in Raleigh, North Carolina, home of the Carolina Hurricanes. Gary Bettman announced at the RBC Center on April 8, 2010 that the game would be held in Raleigh.
The Phoenix Coyotes were originally slated to host the Game that year in replacement of the 2006 Game, which they had again originally been awarded before the NHL ultimately decided not to hold the Game the Olympic year.
Amid fears that the Coyotes franchise would not "right its ship" by February 2011, however, the cities of Pittsburgh, Raleigh and Ottawa rose as candidates for the 2011 Game, with Raleigh eventually being chosen, having been promised the Game since the Hurricanes reached 12,000 season ticket sales earlier in the decade.
The 2011 Game also introduced a new format, replacing the traditional conference teams with a "fantasy draft."
Fans voted for six players, from either conference (three forwards, two defencemen and one goaltender) while the NHL selected another 36 players for a total of 42 players. The chosen players then selected two captains for each All-Star team, who then selected their teammates in a draft. The chosen captains for the 2011 Game were Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit and Eric Staal of Carolina.
The 2013 All-Star Game was originally scheduled for January 27, 2013, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio (the home of the Columbus Blue Jackets).
However, the game was postponed to 2015, first due to the 2012–13 NHL lockout (which delayed the start of the 2012–13 NHL season until January 19, 2013) followed the inability to play in 2014 due to it falling on an Olympic Games year where NHL players competed at the XXII Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Game was eventually played on January 25, 2015.
The 2016 All-Star Game was played on January 31, 2016, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee (the home of Nashville Predators).
The game (which featured a number of country music acts in the festivities) was notable for both a new format (instead of a single game, a four-division, three-on-three tournament was held) and the appearance of John Scott, a journeyman enforcer who was voted into the game through a fan vote.
Scott (who had been demoted to the American Hockey League after the vote) played as a member of no team and as captain of the Pacific Division, he scored two goals (after scoring none the entire regular season up to that point) and won the game's "Most Valuable Player" award.
Five current NHL cities and one coming next season have not yet been awarded and subsequently hosted the NHL All-Star Game: Anaheim, California, Glendale, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, Newark, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
The New Jersey Devils did host the game in 1984 (even though they were then based in East Rutherford, New Jersey) while the Capitals hosted the game in 1982 when they were based in Landover, Maryland.
Other than the home arenas of the Devils and Capitals, the Prudential Center in Newark and the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., the other new arenas that have not hosted the All-Star Game in markets that have hosted it previously are the United Center in Chicago, PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Scottrade Center in St. Louis, KeyBank Center in Buffalo, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Rogers Place in Edmonton and Little Caesars Arena (opening in 2017) in Detroit.
The next All-Star Game will take place in 2017 and will be held in Los Angeles which will be the third time that an All-Star game is held in Los Angeles.
The last two All-Star Games in Nashville, Tennessee and Columbus, Ohio were the first times that the respective cities had hosted the event.
The format was changed so that it is no longer a singular all-star game per se; instead, four all-star teams (each representing one of the league's four divisions) will participate in a two-round knockout tournament, with each game being two 10-minute halves in length and played with three skaters on each team.
|Player||Points (g-a)||Games Played|
|Wayne Gretzky||25 (13–12)||18|
|Mario Lemieux||23 (13–10)||10|
|Joe Sakic||22 (6–16)||12|
|Mark Messier||20 (6–14)||15|
|Gordie Howe||19 (10–9)||23|
- Gordie Howe, 23 times
- Ray Bourque, 19 times
- Wayne Gretzky, 18 times
- Frank Mahovlich, 15 times
- Paul Coffey, 15 times
- Mark Messier, 15 times
- Scott Stevens, 13 times
- Alex Delvecchio, 13 times
- Glenn Hall, 13 times
- Al MacInnis, 13 times
- Jaromir Jagr, 12 times
- Joe Sakic, 12 times (elected to the team 13 times, was injured in 1997)
- Terry Sawchuk, 11 times
- Patrick Roy, 11 times
- Nicklas Lidstrom, 11 times
- Teemu Selanne, 11 times
- Brian Leetch, 10 times
- Mario Lemieux, 10 times
- Jari Kurri, 10 times
- Steve Yzerman, 10 times
- Martin Brodeur, 9 times (elected to the team 10 times, had a family obligation in 2008)
- Mats Sundin, 9 times