NHL fans get ready: NHL All-Star weekend has undergone a major facelift. New skills competition paired with a new kind of fantasy draft of NHL All-Star players to create a weekend that will hopefully enrapture hockey fans every February for years to come.

But what about the best NHL All-Star games of years past? In this Betway Insider ranker, we attempt to rank the 10 greatest.

When is the NHL All-Star Game 2024?

The 2024 NHL All-Star Game was held in Toronto, CA on Saturday, February 3rd.

How are NHL All-Star teams selected?

It’s not as simple as the NHL Eastern Conference vs the NHL Western Conference. For the 2024 edition, NHL All-Star teams were selected. Instead, four captains were paired with celebrities and picked each team via a televised snake draft.

NHL All-Star Game History

There are far more goals in recent All-Star games: for example, Maple Leafs F Mitch Marner set the record for the most assists in an NHL All-Star game with 6 in 2023 -- most NHL All-Star game records have fallen in recent seasons.

Past NHL All-Star game scores were lower, but that doesn’t mean the spectacle was any worse.

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest NHL All-Star Games of all time

  1. 2024 NHL All-Star Game: February 3, 2024

Location: Toronto
Notable players: Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, Nathan Mackinnon

We’ll kick off our list with the 2024 NHL All-Star Game, which featured a twist from recent seasons: celebrity captains. Four NHL All-Stars (Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Quinn Hughes) were paired with four celebrities (Justin Bieber, Will Arnett, Tate McRae, Michael Buble) to form the four teams.

Team Matthews won the mini-tournament thanks to two goals and assists from the team’s captain, Auston Matthews. Who has the most NHL All-Star game MVPs? Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky both have three.

  1. 1947 NHL All-Star Game: October 13, 1947

Location: Toronto
Notable players: Maurice Richard, Syl Apps

The first NHL All-Star game was not a matchup of the best from the East vs West or a fantasy draft of any kind. Instead, it was a matchup of the Toronto Maple Leafs (one of the best teams of the 1940s) vs a mixed NHL All-Star squad led by superstar Maurice “Rocket” Richard.

Hap Day’s Maple Leafs lost a tightly contested 4-3 thanks to a winning goal from Chicago Blackhawks winger Doug Bentley. The NHL maintained the format (team vs All-Stars) until 1969.

  1. 2003 NHL All-Star Game: February 2, 2003

Location: Sunrise, Florida (Panthers)
Notable players: Jaromir Jagr, Dany Heatley, Martin Brodeur

What was the first NHL All-Star game to feature a shootout? The 2003 NHL All-Star, which will also go down in hockey lore thanks to four goals from Ottawa F Dany Heatley (Heatley would be involved in a fatal car crash that would alter his career shortly after the game).

Heatley’s four goals powered the Eastern Conference and set up a shootout with the score level at 5-5. Funnily enough, Heatley was the only Eastern Conference player to score in the shootout as the West walked away winners.

  1. 1979 NHL Challenge Cup: February 8-11, 1970

Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City
Notable players: Mike Bossy, Tony Esposito, Guy Lafleur

The 1979 NHL All-Star Game did not follow its traditional format. Instead, it was a “Challenge Cup” pitting the best NHL All-Star against an All-Star from the Soviet Union in a best-of-three showdown at Madison Square Garden in mid-February.

The Soviet squad took the affair two games to one thanks to 6-0 romping in the third game (even though the NHL All-Stars outshot their Soviet counterparts 24-19 in the contest).

  1. 1988 NHL All-Star Game: February 9, 1988

Location: St. Louis Arena
Notable players: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman’

The 1988 NHL All-Star Game should have a different name: the Mario Lemieux Legacy Game. The Penguins center notched six points to lead the Wales conference (East) to victory, including the winning goal in overtime to complete his hat trick.

Lemieux’s six points smashed the previous record of four points in an All-Star game to establish a new mark for the most points in an NHL All-Star game.

  1. 1983 NHL All-Star Game: February 8, 1983

Location: Nassau Coliseum (Islanders)
Notable players: Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque

If the 1988 NHL All-Star Game was the Mario Lemieux Legacy Game, then the 1983 NHL All-Star Game was the Wayne Gretzky Invitational. The Edmonton Oilers superstar slept-walked through the first two periods before exploding in the third.

Gretzky notched a breathtaking four goals in the third period, not only setting an NHL All-Star period record but a record for the most goals scored in an All-Star contest. His Oilers’ linemate Mark Messier assisted on three of the goals (setting a period record).

With various rule changes, Gretzky’s record has been since broken. However, he was still the first man to bag four.

  1. 2015 NHL All-Star Game: January 25, 2015

Location: Columbus
Notable players: Alexander Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, John Tavares

What is the highest-scoring all-star game in NHL history? The answer is 2015, when Team Toews defeated Team Foligno in a thrilling 17-12 contest. There were numerous standout performances: John Tavares netted four goals, Jacob Voracek had six points, and Team Toews scored a stunning seven goals in the second period.

Does the highest scoring necessarily mean the most competitive? Probably not: defense was certainly optioned during the 2015 NHL All-Star game. But 29 total goals is 29 total goals.

  1. 1986 NHL All-Star Game: February 4, 1986

Location: Hartford (Hartford Whalers)
Notable players: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Glenn Anderson

Unlike the dizzying 2015 NHL All-Star Game, the 1986 contest featured far more control. The East ran out 4-3 winners thanks to a game-winning overtime goal by Islanders C Bryan Trottier.

The star of the show was Oilers GK Grant Fuhr, who saved all 15 shots he faced in 31 minutes of ice time. His efforts earned him the All-Star MVP award, the first to be awarded to a black player. Fuhr was the first black player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

  1. 2016 NHL All-Star Game: January 31, 2016

Location: Nashville
Notable players: John Scott, Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Kane

In his entire NHL career, former Arizona Coyotes enforcer John Scott scored just 5 goals in 286 games. At the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, he scored two to walk with the game’s MVP award.

Scott was a hardman not particularly known for his scoring, skating ability, or passing -- he was known for his ability to dish out a timely hit. That didn’t stop NHL fans from voting him team captain for the 2016 NHL All-Star game, and Scott scored two goals to propel the Pacific Division to victory.

  1. 1980 NHL All-Star Game: February 5, 1980

Location: Joe Louis Arena (Detroit)
Notable players: Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy

Why was the 1980 NHL All-Star game the greatest All-Star game of all time? Here’s a quick rationale:

  • Gordie Howe, aged 51, was making his 23rd and final All-Star appearance. At the time, he had the most points in NHL history
  • Wayne Gretzky, aged 19, was making his first All-Star appearance. He would eventually become the all-time points leader

Talk about a true passing of the torch moment, even though neither recorded a point in the contest.

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