A Brief History of the NHL All-Star Game

Kevin van Steendelaar@@LeTirEtLeButAnalyst IJanuary 25, 2009

Tonight marked the 57th rendition of the NHL All-Star Game.

The first official game, held in October, 1947, saw the All-Stars defeat the defending Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3.

Prior to that, only three other "All-Star" games had been played. All three benefited the families of former NHL players.

Here is a quick outline of those games and just a few other game highlights/changes since 1947.

1934- Earlier in the season, Eddie Shore of the Boston Bruins delivered a devastating hit on Toronto's Ace Bailey, fracturing his skull and ending his career. The injury caused internal bleeding, almost resulting in the death of Bailey and manslaughter charges against Shore.

A benefit game was held on Feb. 14. $23,000 was raised and Bailey was on hand to present the sweaters. Shore was the second player to receive a sweater. Bailey reached out and happily shook Shore's hand to the erupting applause at Maple Leaf Gardens.

1937- In a tribute to Canadiens legend Howie Morenz, who passed away due to complications from a broken leg, an All-Star squad defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-5.

1939- The Canadiens again fell to the All-Stars 5-2. This game was a fundraiser for Canadiens HOFer, "Babe" Seibert, who had drowned in the off-season.

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1947- The first official All-Star game. Toronto's Fleming MacKell was, and still is, the youngest player to play at 18 years, five months, and 13 days old.

1951- The All-Star format goes from All-Stars vs. Stanley Cup Champions to a team of First Team All-Stars, supplemented with players from the four U.S.-based clubs (Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York), playing Second Team All-Stars with additions from Toronto and Montreal.

Both the 1951 and 1952 games ended in ties, and the League went back to the previous format.

1953- The last fighting majors recorded in an All-Star Game are issued out to Montreal's Bert Olmstead and Detroit's Red Kelly.

1967 - The All-Star Game is moved to mid-season. There was no game played in 1966.

During this game, Canadiens goaltenders Charlie Hodge and Gary Bauman combine on 35 saves to record the only shutout in All-Star game history. It was more impressive given the fact the All-Stars had a line consisting of Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, and Stan Mikita (1,952 career regular season goals).

1968- The last game featuring All-Stars against the Stanley Cup champs. Minnesota North Stars center Bill Masterson had died the day before the All-Star game due to a brain injury from a game on Jan. 13. As a result,  Leafs winger Brian Conacher becomes the first All-Star player to wear a helmet. 

The game was also the first for Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr. He would wear the No. 5 jersey. No. 4 was already claimed by Canadiens Captain Jean Beliveau.

Toronto's Bruce Gamble is the first goalie to win the All-Star MVP.

1969 - An East Division vs. West Division format is introduced. For the first time, players were rewarded for their efforts, with the winning side receiving $500 per player and those from the losing side, $250 each. Ironically the game ended in a 3-3 tie.

Goaltender Glenn Hall would play in his 13th and final All-Star game, a record for NHL goaltenders.

1972 - Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins is the first defenceman to win the All-Star Game MVP. The only other defenceman to win it to date would be Ray Bourque in 1996.

1975- The conference-based format we are now familiar with is used with The Wales Conference against the Campbell Conference. The Wales won 12 of the 17 games before the Conference names were changed in 1993-94 to the more familiar Western (Campbell) Conference and Eastern (Wales) Conference.

1979 - The Challenge Cup (NHL vs. Soviets) replaces the All-Star Game this year.

1980 - Gordie Howe, then 51 years old, makes his 23rd and final appearance in an NHL All-Star game as a member of the Hartford Whalers. The fans at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, his home with the Red Wings, gave him a lengthy ovation.

This would also be Wayne Gretzky's first All-Star game.

1983 - Greztky scores four goals in one period, an All-Star game record.

1984 - Steve Yzerman becomes the youngest player to participate in an All-Star game who was not a member of a defending Stanley Cup team. He was 18 years, eight months, and 22 days of age.

1986 - The Fans are allowed for the first time to vote for the starting lineups for the All-Star game.

1987- The All-Star game is replaced by "Rendez-Vous '87," which pitted NHL stars against Soviet stars.

1988 - Mario Lemieux scores three goals and three assists for an All-Star record six points, leading the East to a 6-5 overtime victory over the West. Montreal's Mats Naslund had five assists, also an All-Star Game record.

1989 - Wayne Gretzky returns to Edmonton for his first All-Star Game as a Los Angeles King. With a goal and two assists, he wins his second All-Star MVP award.

1993- Mike Gartner scores the fastest two goals from the start of a game (3:15 and 3:37 of the first period and Adam Oates records four assists in one period. Both are All-Star game records.

1994- Mike Richter stpos 19 of 21 shots, becoming the last goalie to date t win the All-Star Game MVP.

1995- The All-Star game is not played due to the lockout-shortened NHL season.

1997 - Owen Nolan, of the San Jose Sharks, points to the top corner behind Buffalo's Dominik Hasek while on a breakaway. He makes good on his "called shot", firing a wrist shot past the Sabres goalie.

1998 - The game format changes from North American stars against players from the rest of the world. This format would be used for five more games.

2000 - Pavel Bure records the 11th hat trick in All-Star history and was named the Game's MVP. His brother Valeri assisted on two of Pavel's three goals to become the first brother combination since Maurice and Henri Richard to hook-up for an All-Star Game goal. The Richards combined in the 1957 and 1958 games

2003- Dany Heatley becomes the first player to score four consecutive goals in an All-Star game. This game would also be the first to feature a shoot-out. Although Healtley scored in that as well, the West still prevailed 6-5.

2007 - The All-Star game is back for the first time since 2004. There was no game in 2005 because of a lockout and none in 2006 because of the break in the schedule required by the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

2008 - Rick Nash scores just 12 seconds into the game, an All-Star record.

2009 - Eastern Conference Captain, and host team Montreal Canadiens winger, Alexei Kovalev has a 3 point night (2 goals, 1 assist). He also scores in the shoot-out, earning the MVP as the East wins 12-11.

Canadiens defenceman Mike Komisarek gets a hooking penalty in overtime. It's the first penalty called in a game since 2000.