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The National Hockey League All-Star Game (French: Match des Étoiles de la Ligue Nationale de Hockey) 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 game's proceeds benefit the pension fund of the players.


Current format

The starting lineup for the two teams, the Eastern Conference All-Stars and the Western Conference All-Stars, where the "first team" or starting line, including the starting goaltender, is voted on 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.[1]

The All-Star Game is preceded by the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, a competition showing the various talents of the all-stars, and the NHL YoungStars Game, an exhibition game not exclusively featuring rookies,[2] playing under slightly modified rules.



Benefit games

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 Game

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.[3]

Ace Bailey Benefit Game

Ace Bailey (left) and Eddie Shore shake hands at the benefit game held in honour of Bailey

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, but his playing career was over. Shore was suspended for 16 games of a 48 game season for the hit.[4]

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.[5]

Howie Morenz Memorial Game

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, Morenz's leg shattered in five separate locations above the ankle. He was carried off the ice on a stretcher to a hospital, where he died, not because of the leg injury, but because of his family, friends, and a legion of fans, all of whom wanted to wish him well. At one time, one visitor noted that it was as if a party was being held inside of Morenz's hospital room, complete with whiskey and beer. Morenz died on March 8 the same year, from, as teammate Aurele Joliat put it, "a broken heart" (Morenz 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.[6]

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.[7]

Babe Siebert Memorial Game

On August 25, 1939, Babe Siebert, former player and recently-named head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, drowned in Lake Huron. To benefit his family, the Canadiens and Montreal Maroons organized a benefit, held on October 29, 1939 at the Montreal Forum. 6,000 fans attended a game between the Canadiens and the "NHL All-Stars", raising $15,000 for Siebert's family. The All-Stars won the game 5–2.[8]

Official games

Despite Bailey's hopes of an annual All-Star Game, it did not become an annual tradition until the 1947–48 NHL season. Since then, the All-Star Game has been played every year, except in 1966, when the All-Star Game was moved from the start of the season to its current position in the middle of the season, 1979 with the Challenge Cup series replacing the game, 1987 with Rendez-vous '87 replacing it, 1995 with the season shortened by a lockout, and 2005 when the season was canceled altogether because of another lockout. As part of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ending this lockout, the NHL will not hold an All-Star Game during Winter Olympic years, meaning there was no All-Star Game during the 2005–06 NHL season, the first held under the new CBA.


Jersey worn by Maurice Richard during the 1949 All-Star Game.

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 comprising 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 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 the Maple Leaf Gardens. All-in-all, the game was a success, with the All-Stars winning 4–3.[9]

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 goalie 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 of the scoring done in the second period.


The defending 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 [[Playoff format#


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. 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 a 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.


With the realignment of the NHL into four divisions for the 1974-1975 season, the 1975 All-Star Game was the first to pit the Wales Conference against the Campbell Conference.

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 best the NHL had to offer faced off against the best the Soviet Union had to offer in the Challenge Cup.

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 1981-1982 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 National Basketball Association and by this time had returned, following a hiatus brought on by ballot box stuffing, to Major League Baseball; the National Football League 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, held at Le Colisée in Quebec City. 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 apiece.

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, both of which, as events would turn out, would eventually happen.


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 honour their years to their game.

With the renaming of conferences and divisions on a geographical basis for the 1993-1994 season, the 1994 All-Star Game was the first between East and West in name since 1974, although the Wales vs. Campbell format pitted east against west from 1982 to 1993.

The 46th 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, which was to host that game, was awarded the 1997 game instead.

The 48th All-Star Game in 1998 saw the first change in format in years to promote the first Olympic hockey tournament where NHL players could participate. This format, which was used for five years, saw a team of North American All-Stars taking on a team of players who were not from North America known as the World All Stars. The format was not without its critics, some of which suggested replacing the game with a miniature national tournament, in the style of the World Cup of Hockey. Many fans also weren't happy with the system, especially some Canadian fans,[citation needed] who resented having a team with 75% Canadian players labeled "North America." The "First International Showdown", as it was billed, saw the North Americans win 8–7.


In 2003, the game reverted back to its classic East vs. West format. Dany Heatley scored four goals, tying an All-Star Game record, plus a shootout goal. Heatley 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 collective bargaining agreement 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 in the 2005–06 NHL season either.

After a two-season absence, the 2007 game was played in Dallas, Texas. The West defeated the East 12–9; Danny Briere of the Buffalo Sabres recorded a goal and four assists and was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

The Atlanta Thrashers hosted the 2008 game (they were originally scheduled to host the canceled 2005 game). 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 (Montreal Canadiens) hosted the All-Star Game as well as the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. 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 MVP with 2 goals and 1 assist, as well as the shootout winner. Montreal hockey 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.


There will be no All-Star Game in 2010, because of the change in the collective bargaining agreement, and due to 2010 being an Olympic Games year. The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver mark the first time that the Olympics have been hosted in an NHL market since the NHL allowed its players to compete therein.[10]

Glendale, Arizona may be next in line to host a game. The Phoenix Coyotes were slated to host the 2006 game that was scheduled before the NHL decided not to hold the game during Olympic years. Amid fears the Coyotes franchise will not right its ship and might not exist come February 2011, Pittsburgh and Raleigh, North Carolina are also emerging as 2011 host cities. The Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers have expressed interest in hosting the 2012 game.[11] The Toronto Maple Leafs have also announced bids to host either the 2012 or 2013 event.[12]


Year Winning Team Losing Team Host team MVP
1908 Wanderers 10 All Stars 7 Montreal Wanderers
1934 Maple Leafs 7 All Stars 3 Toronto Maple Leafs
1937 All-Stars 6 Montreal 5 Montreal Canadiens
1939 All-Stars 5 Canadiens 2 Montreal Canadiens
1947 All-Stars 4 Toronto 3 Toronto Maple Leafs (1)
1948 All-Stars 3 Toronto 1 Chicago Black Hawks (1)
1949 All-Stars 3 Toronto 1 Toronto Maple Leafs (2)
1950 Detroit 7 All-Stars 1 Detroit Red Wings (1)
1951 1st Team vs 2nd Team (2-2 Tie) Toronto Maple Leafs (3)
1952 1st Team vs 2nd Team (1-1 Tie) Detroit Red Wings (2)
1953 All-Stars 3 Montreal 1 Montreal Canadiens (1)
1954 All-Stars 2 Detroit 2 Detroit Red Wings (3)
1955 Detroit 3 All-Stars 1 Detroit Red Wings (4)
1956 All-Stars at Montreal (1-1 Tie) Montreal Canadiens (2)
1957 All-Stars 5 Montreal 3 Montreal Canadiens (3)
1958 Montreal 6 All-Stars 3 Montreal Canadiens (4)
1959 Montreal 6 All-Stars 1 Montreal Canadiens (5)
1960 All-Stars 2 Montreal 1 Montreal Canadiens (6)
1961 All-Stars 3 Chicago 1 Chicago Black Hawks (2)
1962 Toronto 4 All-Stars 1 Toronto Maple Leafs (4) Eddie Shack
1963 All-Stars at Toronto (3-3 Tie) Toronto Maple Leafs (5) Frank Mahovlich
1964 All-Stars 3 Toronto 2 Toronto Maple Leafs (6) Jean Beliveau
1965 All-Stars 5 Montreal 2 Montreal Canadiens (7) Gordie Howe
1966 No game as it was shifted to the middle of season.
1967 Montreal 3 All-Stars 0 Montreal Canadiens (8) Henri Richard
1968 Toronto 4 All-Stars 3 Toronto Maple Leafs (7) Bruce Gamble
1969 West vs East (3-3 Tie) Montreal Canadiens (9) Frank Mahovlich (2)
1970 East 4 West 1 St. Louis Blues (1) Bobby Hull
1971 West 2 East 1 Boston Bruins (1) Bobby Hull (2)
1972 East 3 West 2 Minnesota North Stars (1) Bobby Orr
1973 East 5 West 4 New York Rangers (1) Greg Polis
1974 West 6 East 4 Chicago Black Hawks (3) Garry Unger
1975 Wales 7 Campbell 1 Montreal Canadiens (10) Syl Apps, Jr.
1976 Wales 7 Campbell 5 Philadelphia Flyers (1) Peter Mahovlich
1977 Wales 4 Campbell 3 Vancouver Canucks (1) Rick Martin
1978 Wales 3 Campbell 2 (OT) Buffalo Sabres (1) Billy Smith
1979 Game canceled in favor of the 1979 Challenge Cup
between the NHL All-Stars and the Soviet Union.
1980 Wales 6 Campbell 3 Detroit Red Wings (5) Reggie Leach
1981 Campbell 4 Wales 1 Los Angeles Kings (1) Mike Liut
1982 Wales 4 Campbell 2 Washington Capitals (1) Mike Bossy
1983 Campbell 9 Wales 3 New York Islanders (1) Wayne Gretzky
1984 Wales 7 Campbell 6 New Jersey Devils (1) Don Maloney
1985 Wales 6 Campbell 4 Calgary Flames (1) Mario Lemieux
1986 Wales 4 Campbell 3 (OT) Hartford Whalers (1) Grant Fuhr
1987 Game canceled in favor of Rendez-Vous '87
between the NHL All-Stars and the Soviet Union.
1988 Wales 6 Campbell 5 (OT) St. Louis Blues (2) Mario Lemieux (2)
1989 Campbell 9 Wales 5 Edmonton Oilers (1) Wayne Gretzky (2)
1990 Wales 12 Campbell 7 Pittsburgh Penguins (1) Mario Lemieux (3)
1991 Campbell 11 Wales 5 Chicago Blackhawks (4) Vincent Damphousse
1992 Campbell 10 Wales 6 Philadelphia Flyers (2) Brett Hull
1993 Wales 16 Campbell 6 Montreal Canadiens (11) Mike Gartner
1994 East 9 West 8 New York Rangers (2) Mike Richter
1995 Game canceled as part of the season was locked out.
1996 East 5 West 4 Boston Bruins (2) Ray Bourque
1997 East 11 West 7 San Jose Sharks (1)[13] Mark Recchi
1998 North
8 World 7 Vancouver Canucks (2) Teemu Selanne
1999 North
8 World 6 Tampa Bay Lightning (1) Wayne Gretzky (3)
2000 World 9 North
4 Toronto Maple Leafs (8) Pavel Bure
2001 North
14 World 12 Colorado Avalanche (1) Bill Guerin
2002 World 8 North
5 Los Angeles Kings (2) Eric Daze
2003 West 6 East 5 (SO) Florida Panthers (1) Dany Heatley
2004 East 6 West 4 Minnesota Wild (1) Joe Sakic
2005 Game canceled as the entire season was locked out.
2006 No game because of the XX Winter Olympic Games.[14]
2007 West 12 East 9 Dallas Stars (1) Daniel Briere
2008 East 8 West 7 Atlanta Thrashers (1)[15] Eric Staal
2009 East 12 West 11 (SO) Montreal Canadiens (12)[16] Alexei Kovalev
2010 No game because of the XXI Winter Olympic Games.[14]

Statistical leaders

Leading scorers

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

Most appearances

† - Active player



  • Podnieks, Andrew (2000). The NHL All-Star Game: 50 years of the great tradition. Toronto: HarperCollins. ISBN 000200058X. 


  1. ^ "2008 NHL All-Star Game". Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  2. ^ 2007 All-Star Game Coverage: NHL's bright future is on display
  3. ^ Podnieks(2000), pp. 1–4
  4. ^ Podnieks(2000), pp. 5–7
  5. ^ Podnieks(2000), pp. 5–10
  6. ^ Podnieks (2000), pp. 11–12.
  7. ^ Podnieks (2000), pp. 12–14.
  8. ^ Podnieks(2000), pp. 15–18
  9. ^ Podnieks(2000), p. 21
  10. ^ "Vancouver – A City of Olympic Firsts". Tourism Vancouver. Archived from the original on 2010-02-17. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  11. ^ Garrioch, Bruce (January 25, 2009). "Ottawa may host 2012 All-Stars". Slam! Sports. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  12. ^ "Leafs Bid To Host 2012, 2013 All-Star Weekend". Toronto Maple Leafs. March 11, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  13. ^ 1997 hosting assignment was a replacement for the 1995 All-Star Game.
  14. ^ a b No game will be played during a Winter Olympics year.
  15. ^ 2008 hosting assignment is a replacement for the 2005 All-Star Game.
  16. ^ Montreal will host 2009 NHL All-Star events

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