Photo credit:Tyler Yaremchuk
Live from the 2024 NHL All-Star Game
22 days ago
Yesterday, I recapped my experience at the 2023 NHL Skills Competition, and I was thrilled to report that, for once, the event didn’t let me down.
The league did so much to make that event entertaining, and it really paid off.
As for today and the actual All-Star game itself, my expectations were not quite as high. This thing has been a dud for as long as I can remember and with the format being almost the exact same as it was in years past, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away.
The event really was the same as all the others to begin. The start of the game between Team McDavid and Team MacKinnon was just flat-out painful to watch. For 15 minutes, they just floated around and then down by two goals late, Team McDavid decided to actually start trying, and they quickly potted two goals, with the Oilers Captain tying the game with just 5.4 seconds to go.
The opener went to a shootout where McDavid opened the scoring and David Pastrnak completed the comeback with a nasty shootout winner.
While I did rag on how boring the fantasy draft was on Thursday night, I do love that it gave us a chance to see some superstars that we’ve never seen play together team up. McDavid, Pastrnak and Draisaitl had some pretty good chemistry.
The other semi-final game was between Team Matthews and Team Hughes. It had similar drama and went to a shootout as well. Team Matthews got the victory and the crowd let their presence be known.
McDavid vs Matthews really was the perfect end to this event. The hometown boys trying to stop McDavid’s perfect weekend.
It was refreshing to see the effort level spike up in the final. I guess with $1 million on the line again, the players figure “We’re already out here, might as well try a little bit.” McDavid even got his speed up to just over 37 kph at one point!
Ultimately, it was Team Matthews that got the last laugh as they walked away with the victory despite a late push from Team McDavid.
The home crowd went home happy.
With the game all wrapped up, here’s a little bit more about what I loved, hated, and what I would change for this event next season.
- Justin Bieber was warming up in full gear with all the stars. He stayed out extra late with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner as well and the crowd absolutely loved it. He was just living out his hockey dream and it was really cool to watch. He’s a pretty good player too.
- My colleague Steven Ellis said he saw a fan wearing a jersey of every NHL team. Pretty neat.
- Watching Nathan MacKinnon and Sidney Crosby rip it up together was sweet. They had some nasty chemistry.
- Whenever a player scored, the arena would blast their teams goal song. A nice unique touch.
- Jeremy Swayman had a look at a goalie goal. Would have been electric.
- I didn’t love the jerseys at first, but after seeing them all over Toronto and in action on the ice, I actually am a fan. They were crisp and modern.
- Nikita Kucherov taunting the crowd before his shootout attempt was awesome.
- Tate McRae
- All the future Oiler, Boone Jenner jokes.
- Justin Bieber’s coat.
- Michael Buble’s antics.
- I don’t expect the players to be going 110% in this event at all, but it would be nice if they cranked ‘er up to like 60% for the event. Watching these guys go around in slow-motion for most of the games was lame.
- There are still way too many long gaps between the All-Star games. They brought everything out for the player introductions twice and it just slowed things down. It would be better if they just played the first two games back-to-back, with a minimal break and then had the concert, and then the final. This thing should be able to be a two-hour event.
WHAT I WOULD CHANGE NEXT YEAR
- The silence in the arena is so awkward. They should really just be blasting music the entire time.
- I would remove every single faceoff. Someone scores? The team who got scored on starts with it behind their net. Puck out of play? Just lob one back in from the penalty box. Make it feel like a continuous pond hockey-style game. No face-offs.
- Sudden death overtime if it’s tied.
- Anyone in for celebrity Captains that actually play? Why not. Get weird with it.
- Selfish one: have it hosted somewhere warm.
Listen, it’s never going to be perfect and this weekend is largely for sponsors and younger fans. I do still applaud the league for making some really solid changes to this year’s All-Star festivities.
I won’t give them an A+ or anything, but they definitely get a passing grade for putting together the best All-Star weekend that I’ve personally gotten to attend.
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