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History of the All-Star Game

The 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal will be the 57th since its inception in 1947. The first game was played in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens on Canada's Thanksgiving Day – October 13, 1947. The NHL All-Stars defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Maple Leafs 4-3.

The Early Years

Benefit Games Led To All-Star Tradition

Eddie Shore's career-ending check on Ace Bailey eventually spawned the first All-Star Game, which was a tribute game for Bailey.
Prior to the first annual NHL All-Star Game in 1947, the concept of pitting the NHL's elite against each other was used in three games staged to benefit the families of former NHL stars.

On February 14, 1934, a standing-room only crowd jammed Maple Leaf Gardens to watch the defending Stanley Cup champion Toronto squad defeat the NHL All-Stars 7-3. The contest was played as a tribute to Irvin E. “Ace” Bailey, the former Maple Leaf, whose career ended prematurely as a result of a fractured skull. Bailey had been checked by Boston Bruin defenseman Eddie Shore.

The game provided one of hockey's most memorable moments as Shore, a member of the NHL All-Star Team, shook hands with Bailey during the pre-game ceremony at center ice.

The second benefit All-Star Game was played November 3, 1937, in Montreal and pitted the Canadiens against the NHL All-Stars. The contest was played in honor of Howie Morenz, the former Canadiens' great who suffered a broken leg during a game against Chicago, January 28, 1937, and died March 8, 1937. The All-Stars skated to a 6-5 victory.

The Babe Siebert Memorial Game was played October 29, 1939, as a tribute to the former NHL star who had drowned during the off-season. Albert Charles Siebert, affectionately known as “Babe", had been appointed head coach of the Montreal Canadiens for the 1939-40 season. The All-Stars defeated the Canadiens, 5-2, in a game which saw $15,000 raised for Siebert's widow and children.

Format

All-Star Matches Take Shape

During the meeting which surrounded the 1950 All-Star Game in Detroit, two ideas were raised by New York Rangers' Publicity Director, Stan Saplin, to improve the format which matched the All-Stars against the defending Stanley Cup champions. Saplin suggested the six teams be divided into East and West or that Canadian teams (Montreal and Toronto) confront U.S.-based teams (New York, Chicago, Boston and Detroit).

The format changed the next year (1951) when the First Team All-Stars, supplemented with players from the four U.S.-based clubs, faced the Second Team All-Stars with additions from Toronto and Montreal. When both the 1951 and 1952 game ended in ties, the League went back to the format which matched the Stanley Cup champions against the All-Stars.

The 1967 All-Star Game marked the first time in its 20-year history that the game was played in mid-season, rather than prior to the start of the regular schedule. Art Ross, the 1984 recipient of the Lester Patrick Trophy, introduced the idea following a 7-1 victory by the Detroit Red Wings over the NHL All-Stars in the 1950 contest. At that time, Ross stated:  “I think the game should be played later on in the season. The American Thanksgiving Day, that's the fourth Thursday in November, would be a good day. As it is now we are running up against competition from baseball and football. There would be none of that if the game was played at a later date."

1998 saw Wayne Gretzky lead North American NHLers against Dominik Hasek and the rest of the World's NHL All Stars.
The third major change in the format was adopted in 1969 when the All-Stars from the East Division skated against the West. The game ended in a 3-3 tie and for the first time players were rewarded for their efforts, the winning side receiving $500 per player and those from the losing side, $250 each.

The conference-based format, pitting the Wales Conference against the Campbell Conference, began in 1975. The Wales won 12 of the 17 contests before the Conference names were changed in 1993-94 - Western (Campbell) Conference and Eastern (Wales) Conference.

The 1998 All-Star Game featured another change in format, emphasizing the NHL's world-wide talent and coinciding with the international flavor of the NHL's participation in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. The new format pitted the best North American NHL talent against the best NHLers from the rest of the World. The North America All-Star team defeated the World All-Stars 8-7.

After five years under the international format, the 53rd NHL All-Star Game returned to the traditional Conference rivalry in 2003, as the best NHL players in the Eastern Conference faced the top talents from the Western Conference.

All-Star Game Coaches Selection

Prior to the 1996 All-Star Game, the coaches from the two Stanley Cup Finalist teams from the previous season were selected to coach the All-Star teams. For 1996, the selection process changed. The coaches of the first-place teams in their respective conferences at the mid-point of the season were named All-Star head coaches. The job of assistant coach for each All-Star team was awarded to the coach of the second-ranked team in each Conference.

Beginning in 2000, the All-Star coaches were selected based on the teams with the best points percentage in each conference. The head coaches of the two team with the best points percentage in each conference are named All-Star head coach and assistant coach, respectively.

Ivan Owns Only Unbeaten Record

Among the 10 coaches who have appeared in at least four All-Star Games, only Tommy Ivan has managed to post an undefeated record. Ivan finished his coaching career with three wins and one tie in four contests. He coached in the 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1952 All-Star Games.

Tie-Breaking Procedure

In the event of a tie after 60 minutes of regulation time, there will be a 4-on-4, five-minute sudden-death overtime period, followed by a shootout with three shooters from each team. Should the score remain tied, there will be a sudden-death shootout until a decision is reached.

2003: “The “Shoot Out”

2003 was the first year in All-Star history where a shootout was needed to determine a winner. Dallas Stars' goaltender Marty Turco was in goal for the Western Conference, stopping three of four shots, while Patrick Lalime allowed three goals on four shots for the East.

  Player                        Attempt
Eastern Conference Alexei Kovalev unsuccessful
  DANY Heatley successful
  Miroslav Satan unsuccessful
  olli Jokinen unsuccessful
Western Conference sergei Fedorov unsuccessful
  markus Naslund successful
  bill Guerin successful
  paul Kariya successful

Commissioner's Selections

Since 1991, the Commissioner has occasionally requested accomplished senior players to participate in the NHL All-Star Game. The following is a list of players selected to the All-Star Game's veterans category.

  North America World
1998 Mark Messier Jari Kurri
  Al MacInnis Igor Larionov
  Eastern Conference Western Conference
1997 Dale Hunter Viacheslav Fetisov
  Dale Hawerchuk Tony Granato
1996 Craig MacTavish Denis Savard
1994 Mark Howe Dave Taylor
                                 (Howe was injured after being named, and was replaced by Joe Mullen)

  Wales Conference Campbell Conference
1993 Brad Marsh Randy Carlyle
1992 Bryan Trottier Larry Robinson
1991 Guy Lafleur Bobby Smith

Honorary Captains

From 1990 to 1998, Honorary Captains were selected for each squad playing in the All-Star Game. A complete list follows:

  World North America
1998 Ken Dryden Yvan Cournoyer
  Eastern Conference Western Conference
1997 Andy Bathgate Doug Wilson
1996 Bobby Orr Glenn Hall
1994 Rod Gilbert Gordie Howe
  Wales Conference Campbell Conference
1993 Henri Richard Frank Mahovlich
1992 Bobby Clarke Lanny McDonald
1991 Jean Beliveau Stan Mikita
1990 Maurice Richard Alex Delvecchio