Where It (All-Star)ted
The NHL All-Star game came into existence in 1934 when the defending Stanley Cup Champions – The Maple Leafs – faced off against the league’s All-Stars in Toronto.
The first All-Star contest, dubbed the “ACE Bailey Benefit Game,” paid homage to Hall of Famer Irvin E. “Ace” Bailey; he was the former winger for the Toronto Maple Leafs. During a face-off between the Boston Bruins in 1933, Eddie Shore – defenseman for the B’s – was checked hard by King Clancy of the Maple Leafs. In an act of vengeance, Shore sought to trip Clancy but ended up knocking down Ace Bailey instead. It was a near-fatal blow that resulted in Bailey fracturing his skull – ending his career prematurely.
As the All-Star game would prove, the two famed skaters – Shore and Bailey – made amends. They showed the world by shaking hands at center ice during the pre-game ceremony. The Stanley Cup Champions would go on to defeat Shore and the rest of the All-Star team with a four-point lead (7-3). A total of $20,909.40 was raised at the Maple Leaf Gardens for Ace Bailey and his family.
All-Star Format Developments
The All-Star game began as a contest between the defending Stanley Cup Champions and a group of elite players throughout the league. This format would go on to last around 21 years (from 1947 to 1968) except two seasons – 1951 and 1952. During this time, the NHL pitted a group of First Team All-Stars, consisting of players from American teams, against a squad of Second Team All-Stars. Players hailing from the Great White North, Canada, were added as well. This game style was short lived after both games ended in ties.
The game witnessed its third major format change in 1969, when the league decided to have players from the Wales (Eastern) Conference and Campbell (Western) Conference battle it out. This conference-based format dominated the way All-Star games were played for 29 years up until the introduction of a new, international format. Beginning in 1998, the NHL emphasized its world-class talent by adopting a North American versus World–style game. The strategy coincided with the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, where the NHL pitted top talent from North American against a team made up of strictly international skaters. Officials reverted to the conference-style game after a mere five years of international flavor.
The 2011 season saw the dawn of a new tournament, which adopted a draft system commonly used in fantasy sports. Stars from each division: Atlantic, Pacific, Central, and Metropolitan compete in a three-on-three tournament divided into three 20-minute games. Each team is drafted two days before the game by selected captains who will lead the teams. The rules were modified in 2016; this change enabled fans to elect captains for their respective teams while the remaining 40 players were named by the NHL Hockey Operations Department.
The format of the All-Star game is not the only thing that has been changing. Read on to see how the All-Star jersey has evolved since the event began.
Notable Jersey Changes
1957: The All-Stars utilize white as their primary jersey color with a red and blue stripe pattern running from sleeve to sleeve. The NHL logo is placed in the center of the jersey with five blue stars above it.
1963: Red and blue are switched out for orange and black for this ’63 fit – matching the colors of the NHL’s logo. Players numbers are added to the center with only two orange stars above, one on the left, another on the right. The team ditches the stripe pattern and replaces it with a new loop design on the shoulders.
1968: The newly modified jersey includes the orange and black color scheme, but traditional stripes replaces the loops on the sleeves. The shirttail features a thick black stripe with two additional stripes above it, outlined in orange.
1982: With plenty of stars on the ice, it was only fitting to feature them on the jerseys as well. Dozens of black stars are placed in various spots on the jersey. Orange fill covers the forearm and runs down the bottom portion to form a triangle shape. Player names are arched along the back in orange with a black outline.
1986: The format of the All-Star game is changed to a conference versus conference format. Orange, black, and white remain in use as the color scheme for both conferences. The stars are reduced; they’re now located along the shirttail as well as on the upper sleeve. The right shoulder features the NHL logo while the left honors the All-Star badge. Player numbers are placed underneath each patch. To differentiate the conference, “WALES” (Eastern) and “CAMPBELL” (Western) diagonally slope down the front of the jersey.
1989: The Western Conference All-Stars replace orange as their primary color with a sleek black. An orange stripe is added to the bottom of each jersey, and the stars along the sleeves are removed. The NHL logo makes its way back to the center of the jersey but is removed from the right shoulder.
1993: Each jersey features a minor color modification – mainly to the players’ names and their respective numbers.
1994: For the first time in history, the All-Star jerseys undergo a major change. A huge star is featured on the front of each jersey – turquoise for the Eastern Conference and purple for the Western Conference; this design will eventually go on to be used as the Dallas Stars primary logo. The name and numbers on the Eastern Conference’s jersey are black, and outlined by silver trim.
1998: The style of the All-Star game changes once again to a North America versus World format. Each jersey features a “rising sun” design with a blue, red, silver and white color scheme. Team logos adorn the players’ right shoulders. The flag of their home country is placed above the NHL logo in the center.
2000: The players wear colored jerseys this season: red for World and navy blue for North America. The NHL logo now sits inside a stripe that runs across the chest; however, they don two interesting changes are made: a polo-style collar is added, and the player numbers are placed on top of their names.
2002: During the final year of the North America versus World format, the team wears colored jerseys. The font size of the players’ numbers increase, and the players ditch the polo-style collar for a classic lace-up look.
2003: Players revert to the Eastern versus Western Conference format; they abandon the maroon jersey for a pure white look. Star patches replace the home-country flags, and the players’ numbers can be found on the left bottom end.
2004: The All-Star game takes place in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they unveil a vintage jersey style. Conference names replace the NHL logo in the center.
2007: After skipping two years of style opportunities, the All-Star game makes its return with the premiere of the Reebok Edge jersey set.
2011: In addition to the All-Star game taking place in Raleigh, North Carolina – officials serve up a fresh jersey. Players numbers appear in four spots: above the NHL logo, on both sleeves, and on the back. Three stars align the front and back of the shirttail, and stripes run along the underside of the sleeves as well as the front of the cuffs.
2015: Maintaining a similar style to the 2011 jersey – this year’s uniform incorporates a neon green, silver, black, and white color scheme. The script “All-Star” appears on the upper-left side of the uniform’s torso area.
2016: This year sees a new tournament format; the jersey gets an update too. Each division utilizes black, gray, white, and gold as its primary colors. Players numbers are located on either sleeve in addition to the back of the jersey. Both jerseys feature a gold trim along the shirttail and cuffs.
Looking Back to Look Forward
Between the different game formats and the radical jersey changes, the NHL All-Stars definitely know how to keep fans on their toes. Earlier in 2016, the Los Angeles Kings announced they will host the 2017 NHL All-Star game at the Staples Center – located in the heart of La La Land. The top players in each division will head over to Southern California on Jan. 29, 2017, to battle in a tournament-style, all-out exhibition.
— #HockeyFightsCancer (@NHL) September 19, 2016
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