The 2024 NHL All-Star game is upon us and the weekend is getting a revamp: the skills challenge will look vastly different from previous years. As the game is changing, it’s important to reflect on some of the most iconic moments in All-Star history.

NHL All-Star Game History

NHL All-Star teams have been contested between the Wales (Eastern) and Campbell (Western) conferences since 1975 (or 1969, when it was labeled as “East” vs “West”). Before, the collective NHL All-Star players would face off as one against a single NHL team.

Top 10 Most Memorable NHL All-Star Game Moments of all time 

  1. Sarah Nurse's goal vs Igor Shesterkin, 2023

We’ll kick off our list with arguably the moment of the 2023 NHL All-Star Weekend. In the breakaway challenge against all-world Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin, the Canadian international pulled off a Peter Forsberg.

Nurse calmly slotted past Shesterkin to electrify the FLA Live Arena. “I didn't even think about it until afterward… I was just like attack the day. Seize the moment,” Nurse said in shock after the event.

  1. Dany Heatley bags four, 2003

Who has most recently netted four goals in an NHL All-Star game? The answer is former Atlanta Thrashers F Dany Heatley, who bagged four goals in his first-ever All-Star game back in 2003.

Yes, Heatley is known for other things in the wake of the 2003 All-Star Game -- plenty of ink has been spilled regarding his vehicular homicide charges. However, he still holds that slice of NHL history. 

  1. Phil Kessel gets picked last, 2011

What was the reward for being the last pick in the 2011 NHL All-Star game fantasy draft? A Honda CQ-Z and $20,000.

When it came down to Maple Leafs F Phil Kessel and Avalanche F Paul Stastny with the last two picks in the draft, Kessel already knew what he was going to do with the money: donate the money to a cancer charity. Kessel battled testicular cancer as an NHL rookie back in 2006.

Kessel took the moment in stride and made the moment bigger than himself.

  1. Grant Fuhr wins MVP, 1986

Former Oilers goalie Grant Fuhr took over the 1986 NHL All-Star game, saving 15 shots in 31 minutes -- and allowing zero goals -- to become the first black player to win the NHL All-Star game MVP. What’s even more remarkable is that Fuhr’s side went on to lose the contest and he was still lauded for his efforts.

“We’re excited for Grant… he’s a great hockey player,” said his teammate Wayne Gretzky after the game. Fuhr is the first black NHL player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

  1. Dylan Larkin’s mad dash, 2016

At just 19 years old, Red Wings rookie F Dylan Larkin shocked the hockey world when he jaunted around the ice in just 13.72 seconds to break a 20-year record to set the fastest-skater all-time mark. The previous mark, set by Mike Gartner back in 1996, was 13.386 seconds.

Larkin wasn’t even born when Gartner set the previous record. "I didn't even know I won until I heard the crowd go crazy… I couldn't see the scoreboard or anything like that,” Larkin said following his conquest.

  1. The start of the showcase, 1947

The first NHL All-Star game did not feature the best in the West vs the best in the East. Instead, it was an exhibition of the best NHL All-Stars vs the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Maple Leaf Gardens arena in Toronto.

Why did the Leafs play? They were one of two teams -- alongside Chicago -- to apply. The Blackhawks would receive the second game.

  1. Mario Lemieux takes over, 1988

The 1988 NHL All-Star game in St. Louis was a special one -- 23 future Hall of Famers played in the contest. However, one of them shined brighter than the rest.

In his third All-Star game, Penguins C Mario Lemieux factored in all six goals for the Wales Conference as they snuck out as overtime winners. His six points set a then-All-Star record but did not count towards his impressive 168-point haul from the regular season.

In the same game, Mats Naslund recorded the most assists in an NHL All-Star game with 5 -- not bad for the same contest to also have an NHL All-Star game record.

  1. Zdeno Chara’s blast, 2012

Former Bruins D Zdeno Chara is known for a few things: his hulking size, his relentless hits, and his powerful shot. He’s also the answer to a notable trivia question: who holds the record for the fastest shot in NHL All-Star game history?

At the 2012 All-Star game, Chara ripped an NHL record 108.8 mph thunderbolt of a slapshot, creating one of the best NHL All-Star moments ever.

  1. Gretzky takes the stage, 1983

Wayne Gretzky scored four goals in the 1983 NHL All-Star Game, enough to power the Western Conference over the Eastern Conference by a comfortable 9-3 margin.

Oh, all four of Gretzky’s record-equaling haul came in the third period, another All-Star record. Even sweeter: three of the four goals were assisted by his Oilers' line-mate Mark Messier.

  1. Passing of the torch, 1980

Perhaps no All-Star game in the history of professional sports represents the true “passing of the torch” like the 1980 NHL All-Star game. In his hometown Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, 51-year-old Gordie Howe took the ice for the final time at an All-Star game. Howe remarkably amassed 67 points that season for the Hartford Whalers and was competing in his 23rd All-Star game, marking the end of a career that stunningly started in 1946 (not a typo).

A 19-year-old phenom in the West was making his first of 20 All-Star game appearances: Wayne Gretzky. While the moment may have been lost on many at the time, the 1980 All-Star game is the most significant in NHL history.

Gretzky has the most points in NHL All-Star game history with 25.

Related: NHL All-Star skill competition format explained 

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