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Magnificent memories from NHL All-Star Game

Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux have provided some of event's magical moments

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

The NHL All-Star Game has gone through a variety of formats since the first one was played in 1947. It has been moved from the start of the season to midseason, and the change to a 3-on-3 divisional tournament format in 2016 brought a whole new burst of excitement, giving the NHL's best plenty of room to show off their skills.

The break in the regular season this weekend provides the opportunity to relive some of the All-Star Game's most memorable moments:


1947: In the beginning …

There had been three benefit games in the 1930s that matched the defending Stanley Cup champions against a team of All-Stars, but the first "official" All-Star Game didn't take place until 1947, when a group of stars from five teams defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 14,169 at Maple Leaf Gardens. The reigning Stanley Cup champions led 3-2 after two periods, but goals by Maurice Richard and Doug Bentley 59 seconds apart early in the third period put the All-Stars ahead to stay.

Video: Eddie Shore and Ace Bailey reconcile at All-Star Game


1978: Hometown heroes

The 31st edition of the All-Star Game, matching players from the Campbell and Wales Conferences at Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, also was the first to go into overtime. The full house of 16,433 had plenty to cheer about: Buffalo Sabres left wing Rick Martin scored the tying goal with 1:39 remaining in the third period, and his regular center, Gilbert Perreault, got the winner at 3:55 of overtime for a 3-2 victory. The Wales Conference outshot the Campbell Conference 40-12, but MVP Billy Smith of the New York Islanders and Wayne Stephenson of the Philadelphia Flyers kept their team in the game.


1980: Mr. Hockey returns to Detroit

The NHL welcomed four teams from the World Hockey Association for the 1979-80 season, bringing Gordie Howe back to the League for the first time since he retired from the Detroit Red Wings in 1971. Not surprisingly, the 51-year-old legend, now with the Hartford Whalers, was selected for the 1980 All-Star Game in Detroit, setting up one of the great moments in hockey history. Howe, appearing in his 23rd All-Star Game, was the last player to be introduced, and the 21,002 fans nearly blew the roof off the new Joe Louis Arena when public address announcer John Bell began "… And from the Hartford Whalers, representing all of hockey, the greatest statesman for five decades, No. 9!" The fans rose to their feet and cheered for four minutes, quieted only by the introduction of the singers for the Canadian and American national anthems. Howe had an assist on Real Cloutier's goal late in the third period that wrapped up a 6-3 victory for the Wales Conference. Among the players on the losing Campbell Conference team was a 19-year-old center who grew up idolizing Howe; Wayne Gretzky went on to break most of Howe's offensive records.

Video: Gordie Howe's 23rd and final All-Star appearance


1983: Great night for The Great One

Gretzky was on his way to another banner season when he stepped into the ice at Nassau Coliseum for the 35th All-Star Game. The Wales Conference kept him off the scoresheet for the first two periods, but the third period was another story. Gretzky became the first player in All-Star history to score four goals in a game; all four came in a span of 12:58 against goaltender Pelle Lindbergh. Mark Messier, Gretzky's teammate with the Edmonton Oilers, assisted on three of the four goals in the 9-3 Campbell Conference victory.

Video: Wayne Gretzky nets four 3rd period All-Star goals

1988/1990: Magnifique

The 18,878 fans who filled St. Louis Arena for the 1988 All-Star Game saw Mario Lemieux at his best. The Pittsburgh Penguins center set an All-Star record with six points and completed a hat trick when he scored 1:08 into overtime to give the Wales Conference a 6-5 victory. Mats Naslund assisted on all of Lemieux's goals and two others to set an All-Star record with five assists.

Two years later, Lemieux put on a show for the home crowd, matching Gretzky's record by scoring four goals in a 12-7 victory for the Wales Conference at Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Lemieux scored three times in the first period and once in the third. The 19 combined goals were an All-Star Game record.

Video: 1990 ASG: Mario Lemieux scores 4 in Pittsburgh


1991: Madhouse on Madison

On the ice, Vincent Damphousse of the Toronto Maple Leafs scored three of his four goals in the third period to help the Campbell Conference to an 11-5 victory in Chicago. But the most notable moments came before puck drop. With the game being played against the backdrop of Operation Desert Storm, which began earlier in the week, longtime Chicago Stadium anthem singer Wayne Messmer delivered a stirring rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The stadium crowd, which traditionally cheered during the anthem, rocked the building in support of Messmer's performance.

Video: 1991 All-Star Game: Wayne Messmer's National Anthem


1996: Bourque comes through

Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins received a hero's welcome when he skated onto the ice for the 46th All-Star Game at FleetCenter, then made sure he lived up to the reception. With the score tied 4-4 and time running out, Bourque lifted a backhand shot past goaltender Felix Potvin with 37.3 seconds remaining in the third period to give the Eastern Conference a 5-4 win.

Video: 1996 ASG: Hometown hero Ray Bourque's GWG


1997: Nolan calls his shot

Though Mark Recchi of the Montreal Canadiens earned MVP honors by scoring three times for the Eastern Conference in an 11-7 victory against the Western Conference at San Jose Arena, San Jose Sharks right wing Owen Nolan provided the game's most enduring memory. Nolan scored twice in eight seconds during the second period, then completed a hat trick late in the third period when he broke in alone on Dominik Hasek, pointed in the goaltender's direction, then ripped a shot off the crossbar and into the top right corner.

Video: Owen Nolan calls his 3rd All-Star Game Goal in SJ


2003: Four for Heatley

All-Star newcomer Dany Heatley of the Atlanta Thrashers put on a show at the 53rd All-Star Game in Sunrise, Florida. Heatley, playing for the Eastern Conference, became the first player in the game's history to score four consecutive goals for his team; he also assisted on Olli Jokinen's tying goal midway through the third period. After a scoreless overtime period, Heatley, the game's MVP, scored again in the shootout -- but it wasn't enough to prevent the Western Conference from winning 6-5.

Video: 2003 All-Star Game: Danny Heatley scores four + 1


2016: Great Scott

The NHL overhauled the All-Star Game format for 2016 in Nashville, changing to a 3-on-3 tournament with teams made up of players from each of the League's four divisions. Fans got to vote for the four captains; they chose John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes to lead the Pacific Division team. Scott, who had scored five goals in 285 NHL games, had two in the Pacific's 9-6 win against the Central Division, then was named the All-Star MVP after a 1-0 victory against the Atlantic Division in the final.

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