MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens Team Owner George N. Gillett Jr, Team President Pierre Boivin and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly jointly announced Saturday that the 57th NHL All-Star Game will take place on Sunday, January 25, 2009 as one of the main events of the Montreal Canadiens’ Centennial celebrations. The official logo of the 2009 NHL All-Star Game was also unveiled.
The complete schedule of the 2009 All-Star Game Week will be disclosed at the start of the 2008-09 NHL regular season.
Over the years Montreal has been a regular stop for the star-studded affair hosting the NHL’s best players on 12 occasions since the first ever NHL All-Star Game was presented in Toronto in 1947. Montreal last hosted the NHL All-Star Game back in 1993 when the league showcased its finest talent at the 44th Annual Classic. The event produced a 22-goal scoring extravaganza with a final score of 16 to 6 in favor of the Wales Conference over its Campbell Conference counterpart at the Montreal Forum.
Prior to the creation of the NHL All-Star Game, three “unofficial” benefit games were staged in Montreal in the NHL era between 1936 and 1939. The first one was held to benefit the family of Nels Crutchfield in 1936 while the other two were held for tragically lost Canadiens; Howie Morenz, in 1937 and Albert Siebert, in 1939, who drowned shortly after being named coach of the Canadiens.
The Canadiens had already claimed the Stanley Cup on seven occasions when Montreal hosted the NHL’s 7th All-Star Game on October 3, 1953, at the Montreal Forum.
Under the format of the Stanley Cup Champions playing the NHL top players at the start of the regular season, the Canadiens hosted the annual event five straight years between 1956 and 1960. For the 14th NHL All-Star Game, the League introduced the All-Star jerseys with the Canadiens wearing orange and black uniforms instead of the traditional Red, White and Blue jersey.
With the 1967-68 expansion and the NHL going from 6 to 12 teams in two divisions, the All-Star Game format changed and would now feature the Eastern Conference All-Stars playing the Western Conference counterparts. Furthermore, the All-Star Game became a mid-season event instead of being held at the start of the season. On January 21, 1969, in a newly renovated Forum, the 22nd NHL All-Star Game featured an East - West match-up that ended in a 3-3 tie.
The NHL All-Star Game would return to the Forum in 1975 and again in 1993 when it made its league-leading 12th Montreal appearance.
The 2009 NHL All-Star Game will be played on Sunday, January 25 as part of the celebrations surrounding the Canadiens 100th anniversary. For Montreal it will be déjà vu all over again with the 13th presentation of the Annual Classic and the very first one at the Bell Centre.
The 2009 NHL Entry Draft to be held in Montreal in June
The Montreal Canadiens also announced that the 2009 NHL Entry Draft will be held at the Bell Centre in June 2009. One of the NHL’s premier events, the Entry Draft will be part of the franchise’s 100th anniversary celebrations.
Although the first Amateur Draft, as it was then known, was held in 1963, it was six years later in 1969, that the NHL regulated the selection process which would be known as the NHL Entry Draft. Since then, 8,915 players have been drafted by NHL club members. The last time the annual prospects graduation was held in Montreal, back in June 1992, Roman Harmlik was the first overall selection by the Tampa Bay Lightning.