The NHL's annual midseason showcase has taken many forms in its history, but the commemorative game program has remained a constant. It is with the program's existence, however, that its uniformity ends. The design of programs has changed dramatically from the first official All-Star Game in Toronto in 1947, with covers utilizing everything from team headshots to abstract art.
Each program provides a window not just into how design trends have shifted, but how the event itself has evolved since its inception, from the Ace Bailey benefit game in 1934 to the battle of divisional prowess we have today. When the League's legends and its current greats descend on Los Angeles for the 62nd NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 29, thousands of programs will again serve as souvenirs for those attending the festivities.
As part of the NHL's Centennial celebration, here is a collection of some memorable program covers from All-Star games past. While you look through them you may notice some similarities in style across the years. You may also notice one big difference: the first program in this collection cost just 25 cents.
1951: 5th NHL All-Star Game, Toronto
When the game became an annual fixture in 1947, it was a preseason exhibition between the defending champions and a squad pulled from the League's remaining teams. In 1951, this changed to a game between the NHL's first and second-team All-Stars, each of whom was listed in stars on the cover.
1955: 9th NHL All-Star Game, Detroit
By 1955, the All-Star Game returned to its original format with the champion Detroit Red Wings getting the honor of hosting the rest of the League's best -- and defeating them 3-1 at the old Olympia Stadium.
1961: 15th NHL All-Star Game, Chicago
As the 1961 Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the All-Star Game that October at Chicago Stadium. The program itself had a minimalist design, with the NHL's logo being far more prominent than Chicago's. The design choice was a prescient one, as the Blackhawks lost 3-1.
1967: 20th NHL All-Star Game, Montreal
The 1967 game at the Montreal Forum was the first to be shifted to midseason. The format of a team of all-stars facing the defending champions remained, however, with the Canadiens coasting to a 3-0 victory. Jacques Laperriere was the only host player among the six all-stars on the cover.
1972: 25th NHL All-Star Game, Minnesota
The North Stars hosted the 25th All-Star Game, by then a competition between players from the East and West, at the Met Center in Minnesota. The program, in the North Stars' green and yellow, featured headshots of Gordie Howe and Jean Beliveau. Ironically, this was the first All-Star Game since 1956 in which Howe did not participate.
1973: 26th NHL All-Star Game, New York
The 1973 event at Madison Square Garden, the first to be held in New York City, was marked by a program cover featuring only the logos of the quickly-expanding League's 16 teams, including the New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames, who were currently in the middle of their inaugural seasons.
1982: 34th NHL All-Star Game, Washington, D.C.
The All-Star Game program took on a political bent in 1982, as the Washington Capitals hosted for the first time. The cover that season featured each team's logo as well as portraits of U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
1988: 39th NHL All-Star Game, St. Louis
The program cover in 1988 featured Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky set against the skyline of the host city, St. Louis. Gretzky scored in the first period, but Lemieux stole the show, netting a hat trick and adding three assists in a record performance matched only by Jakub Voracek in the 2015 All-Star Game in Columbus.
1997: 47th NHL All-Star Game, San Jose
The program cover for the 1997 game, the first held in northern California, was a sunny face-off between players from the Eastern and Western Conference. This was the last time until 2003 that the game had a conference-based format. The next five pitted North America against the World to showcase NHL participation in the Olympics.
2007: 55th NHL All-Star Game, Dallas
The 2007 program was designed by pop artist Charles Fazzino. In his trademark style, the cover shows a puck breaking through the roof of American Airlines Center in front of the Dallas skyline. At the bottom, the cover incorporates photos of current stars like Martin Brodeur and Nicklas Lidstrom.