• By: Allen Brown

Anticipating the 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend

It’s coming, three days of top-notch hockey competition. Showcases all around, photo ops with celebrities and ex-players, skill competitions, and the cream of the NHL players. Other than the Stanley Cup, the true highlight of the hockey calendar. 

You know what that means: it’s almost time for the NHL All-Star Weekend, 2024 edition. This year, we’re going to Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena. The Canadian city is known for its buzzing downtown, rich restaurant and bar scene, and nightlife that rivals NYC and Los Angeles. 

The History of the All-Star Game 

Before we delve deeper into the 2024 edition, let’s wind it back and take a trip down memory lane. The All-Star Game has been around for a long, long time. The first ever was held in 1947, although those earlier versions are nothing like what we get served these days. 

Back then, you’d have the traditional setup of two teams facing off against each other. On one side, the reigning Stanley Cup winners. On the other, the All-Star team is made up of the best players in the league, with every hockey position covered. 

In 1967, we moved into a more recognizable version. The game moved to the middle of the season, and a few years later, the two teams would be made up of the NHL’s two conferences (Wales vs. Cambell, aka East vs. West). Things didn’t change much until 2009 when the league decided to change things up to drum up more interest in what had now become a fully-fledged All-Star weekend. 

The 2024 All-Star Game Configuration 

In 2011, we got the captain-led game, where each team would pick from the All-Star players to create their respective rosters. In 2016, it evolved further into the mini-tournament we know today. This is how it works: 

The all-stars are divided into four teams, representing the league’s existing divisions. Instead of a single game, there are two semifinals, with the winners then playing for all the marbles. 

The games are 3v3, 10-minute halves, with at least one player from each divisional team selected. The winning team not only gets the glory of victory but also a slice of the one-million-dollar pie given to the All-Star winners.

The players for this year’s edition have already been announced, with the first batch consisting of 32 players, announced on January 4. The final 12 players come from the so-called Fan Vote, which was announced on January 13.  

What’s Different This Year? 

The name of the game is bigger and better. The All-Star Game isn’t just a game, hasn’t been for a while, and now it’s been expanded to a full three-day event. 

The introduction of NHL All-Star Thursday will mark the return of the so-called player draft. Instead of the players being divided by their respective divisions, the captains will choose their teams in a draft configuration. 

On February 2, there is the NHL All-Star Skills presented by DraftKings Sportsbook. The highlight of the weekend, of course, is the All-Star Game itself, which will happen on February 3.  

Skills Competition 

While the Skills Competition has been around for some time, it will look different to previous editions. The reinvented version will have 12 skaters fighting across 8 distinct skills events. At the end of the various challenges, with the player sitting at the top of the points table taking home $1 million. 

The events are looking particularly spicy this year and are often more fun than the All-Star Game itself. This year, we have the Fastest Skater, Hardest Shot, Stick Handling, One Timers, Passing Challenge, and Accuracy Shooting. 

Then, 4 players are eliminated based on scores, with the rest advancing to the Shootout. From there, two drop off, leaving the remaining six finalists. The highlight is the Obstacle Course, where all points achieved are doubled. 

All-Star Celebrities 

On January 20, 2024, the NHL also announced four celebrities would be joining the All-Star fold, acting as captains for each of the teams. Each celebrity will not be acting alone; they will be assisted by a co-captain, an All-Star in their own right, chosen by the league from a pre-selected group of players (fan balloting + NHL Hockey Operations Department). 

Because the game is being held in Canada this year, the four captains all hail from the Great White North: Justin Bieber, Will Arnett, Tate McRae, and Michael Bublé. 

The All-Star Game has a long and storied history, but it’s clear that the league doesn’t want to rest on its laurels. The 2024 edition will be a worthy combination of honoring the game’s best players, but also adding a layer of fun to keep fans entertained. 

Image Credit: Istock