Does Anyone Really Care About The NHL All-Star Game?

by | Jan 9, 2023 | Soapbox | 24 comments

Last week, the NHL announced its 32 players (one from each club) as its initial selections for the 2023 All-Star Game in Sunrise, Florida, on Feb. 4. The fans will get to vote on three other players from each division to round the All-Star rosters.

Following the announcement, Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella was asked what he thought about Flyers forward Travis Konecny not being named to the Metropolitan Division lineup.

I don’t even worry about that s**t,” replied Tortorella. “The whole team, the whole weekend, I don’t even watch it. I think it’s turned into a …well, I’ll just leave it at that. I really don’t care.”

It wouldn’t be shocking if most NHL coaches and players share Tortorella’s opinion about the All-Star Game. I can’t speak for other pundits, bloggers or hockey fans but I stopped caring about it a long time ago.

The last NHL All-Star Game that drew my interest was in 2016. That was the year when the fans, irrepressible scamps that you are, voted for long-time enforcer John Scott to be part of the Pacific Division roster.

John Scott at the 2016 NHL All-Star Game (

NHL HQ attempted to prevent Scott, then a member of the Arizona Coyotes, from participating in its All-Star Game. After declining to bow out when asked to do so by the league and the Coyotes, he was demoted to the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate and then traded to the Montreal Canadiens, who immediately sent him to their AHL club.

That prompted a considerable outcry from fans and pundits about a conspiracy to keep Scott out of the All-Star Game, garnering headlines and becoming an embarrassment for the NHL. The league eventually relented and it became one of the feel-good sports stories of the year.

Supported by his All-Star teammates and opponents, Scott stole the show. He scored two goals in the tournament and captained the Pacific Division to the All-Star championship. He was also named tournament MVP as a write-in candidate and received a standing ovation from the fans.

Since then, the league has taken steps to ensure the fans don’t stuff the ballot box with other write-in candidates it considers unworthy of participating in its All-Star showcase.

The fact that Scott’s story made the 2016 NHL All-Star Game the most memorable and entertaining in years spoke volumes about the irrelevance of this annual event.

It’s been decades since the NHL All-Star Game mattered. Players have stopped taking it seriously, preferring not to risk injury in a meaningless contest. Most of them seem to look forward to the All-Star break as a welcome midseason break in a long, grueling 82-game schedule.

Those not selected for the game take the opportunity to head to sunny climes with family and friends for a little vacation. In the not-too-distant past, some of those chosen to participate tried to back out until the league began threatening multi-game suspensions for those who failed to show up for reasons other than injury or family emergencies.

Over the past three decades, the NHL has tried different formats to make the game more entertaining while providing players more incentive to take them seriously. The amount of money awarded to the winning team was significantly increased. Skills competitions the day prior to the game have become a staple of the All-Star weekend.

While some of these changes have sparked varying degrees of curiosity from fans, it really hasn’t improved the quality of play once the puck drops on the All-Star game itself. It remains glorified pond hockey with bloated scores and little defensive effort.

When the players don’t care, why should the fans?

Whatever city hosts the NHL All-Star Game seems to get some benefit from it as local fans turn out to see all the league’s best players in one place at the same time. None of this, however, generates much of a television audience in Canada and the United States compared to the all-star contests of professional baseball or basketball.

The NHL won’t scrap this event, of course. If it’s to be taken seriously as a major North American sports league it needs an all-star game to showcase its best talent. At least, that’s the story it seems to tell itself.

Most hockey fans probably wouldn’t miss the All-Star Game if it one day disappeared forever from the NHL calendar. Few lamented its absence whenever it was canceled by lockouts, pandemics, or the Olympics. It’s unlikely there would be many tears shed if this year’s event didn’t take place except for those who paid to go see it.

When it comes to NHL All-Star competitions, hockey fans seem to prefer international tournaments such as the Winter Olympics or the World Cup of Hockey. Those games are more meaningful because there’s a lot more on the line.

Until those events come around again, we’re stuck with a meaningless spectacle played by disinterested All-Stars that only strikes a chord with fans whenever there are shenanigans with the selection process.


  1. Clearly, the original intent was to showcase the best of NHL talent and provide some recognition to those players. Today, its primary purpose is to facilitate an up-close experience and fun weekend for all of the major sponsors of the NHL. Most all of the tickets in the arena, the meet-n-greets, the side show events, are all reserved for guests of key sponsors and NHL supported charities. It ends up being a give back from the NHLPA to the NHL.

  2. Lyle-cant disagree with most of this in 2023

    But as a 13 year old going to the AllStar game in 1986 was a great memory. Helped that Mario was walking through the Hartford Civic center mall and i was able to meet him

    It is still a great event for the host cities and it is a shame after a few times star players prefer to skip-which they will actually regret doing when they retire

    but for the serious hockey fan it is a non-event

  3. All star game. Is an interactive fan fest. Enjoy it for what it is or change the channel. Most players seem to have a blast doing it They should donate to the players fund rather then take home $$. Would be my suggestion or split giving. 1/2 to the teams local charities of choice

  4. I have not watched any All Star games of any sport since the NHL’s in1980, and only then because it was Number 9’s final appearance. Otherwise, they are all a waste of time.

  5. This was discussed briefly a few days ago in here and I think the general consensus was “who gives a crap” – emulating Tortorella.

    As I said, I’d rather watch re-runs of The Big Bang Theory than waste my time watching.

    The last time the All-Star Game was a meaningful watch was when, just before the beginning of a new season, the defending Cup champions would host the game and take on an all-star team compiled from the other clubs as chosen by the players. In effect, it became the final “exhibition game” and so had some competitive bite.

    They’ll never go back to that format, however, as now it must be circulated around the league. Which means, of course, if there are kids who love the game and a chance to see all the “stars” in person, he or she will be 32 years older (or more) before they see one again in their home arena.

    To most, however, it’s a colossal snooze fest.

  6. the ASG are for young fans, who are the ones who still take joy in it. it also makes big $$$ for the hosting team and city, so that means it probably won’t go away.

    a mid season tournament between countries would be the best solution, but the owners wouldn’t want to pause the season for 2 weeks to play exhibition games.

    best solution is to cancel ASG weekend (never happen though) and replace with the bi-annual September hockey tournament.

  7. History has been made…. I’m (for the first time) in synch with Torts

    In the title “All” “Star”…. When you are forced to pick 1 from each team…. That in and of itself defeats the purpose

    Yes …. This is geared to the “young” and “new” fans…. But you could still market it that way by having no mandatory (from each team) picks…. Keller guaranteed a spot; Drai not??????????

    I’ve many times re awards “politically” voted by reporters….. who knows the game better than the players…. Right now (I believe)… they decide on just one award????

    Why not let each Div’s players vote for their two starting goalies; and 6 skaters (can’t vote for a team-mate)… that way each Div is guaranteed that the best from their Div gets selected

    THEN the final Div selections come from fans

    Skills competition sans goofy costumes still a go…. Instead of celebrity judges on votes for best breakaway goal…. Have fans actually at the ASG comp; tally their votes… cell/text

    Novelty contest …. Take the schtick out of it….

    How about 2 on 1 skill test; both firwards must clear zone after shot; 45 seconds for as many goals as possible; no goalie, just net with board covering all but the 5 holes???

    Something has to change!!!

  8. What about canceling the game but keeping and expanding the skills competition .Each person who gets selected to go could be given a certain dollar figure from league coffers as a reward for being selected. It would have to be a substantial sum

  9. Nobody cares about the All-Star game but we will B*tch if our guy doesn’t get selected.

  10. The players selected are usually the hardest working and could use a few days rest. Maybe rest would be a better alternative.

  11. Oh cmon! A break from traditional hockey just to smack some pucks for lols is awesome!

    The John Scott ASG was in fact one of the more entertaining ones but, all of them are still fun to crack a beer and watch with friends

    Enjoy the small things… we ain’t here for a long time!

    • Ya NYFNR, not real concerned about this game either way.
      This game will never be physical, as don’t get hurt is the #1 priority for the players and the teams, which of course it is.

      Good time for the guys getting in for the first time, like Beniers, or Thompson from Vegas, both sounded pretty pumped about it.

      Kids like it, host team gets an event and some $, sponsors get a perk, players attending go drink some beer with their buds and have a laugh.

      Will I watch it? Not unless I’m bored and nothing else to do.

      Is what it is.

      • I’ll most certainly watch it because the whole event makes a rather awesome drinking game!

        None of it matters but it still made me happy when Lundqvist won the goalie competition.

        Got drunk, made some friends, cracked a smile and had some hot wings. Not sure it gets much better than that haha

      • This guy gets it. The ASG has 100 different things to drink about.

        “All-star” is a bit of a reach unless you consider all NHLers as stars. Maybe they should basically rebrand it to NHL star showcase, because that’s what it really is.

  12. I haven’t bothered with any sports’ All-star game once players began to be selected by fan vote. Instead of players being rewarded for exceptional play, they simply became popularity contests. And the NHL is the worst. With other sports, at least they play a regular game.

  13. I haven’t watched an all star game for decades as they are boring with players afraid to check as they might hurt someone. Basically a gentlemen’s league game….

  14. The NHL All Star Game is a PR Event for the NHL & its players.

    Re; Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella,
    This guy is just A Complet Idiot, he consistantly go’s from Bad to Worse

    The All Star Game is To show the Fun side of the game and to show case the players skill sets in this event, Helps showcase players Fun side for the young fan base also to help grown popularity of the game showing a different side of the players …

    Ever wondered what the Conversation is a School on a Monday AM after the All Star Game🤔
    yes your right ✔️100%

    its very good PR for the NHL & Players, there are kids from /Edmonton that Now play NHL & who can give you a fabulous review of there All start game attendance …
    Keep the All Star Game👌

    • williew – say what you want about Tortorella … but what he doesn’t do, when asked a direct question, is skirt around the issue by dipping into the Little Red Book of standard cliche answers. He says what he truly thinks … and I find that refreshing. Some may not like what they hear … but at least you know that’s how he feels on a subject. In that regard, he won me over from that aspect, anyway, when, while coaching Tampa Bay, and in the midst of a mini losing streak and asked what he though might turns things around said, directly “a save here and there would be nice.”

  15. Who would everyone vote in as this years John Scott? I vote for chad!

    • Ryan Reaves.

      • Tom Wilson

      • LOLGeorge 😂

        Will they have a Samurai decapitation event?

        Elbow accuracy to the manikin’s chin event?

        8” deep Model clay board; hit manikin from behind; measure deepest imprint (in model clay) for winner

        1 judge for all…. Parros

        8 game get out of jail free card for the winner

  16. It’s basically just a sales conference at this point. There hasn’t been an All Star game in Canada in 10 years despite having over 20% of the teams. It’s all about schmoozing and boozing the sponsors, nothing more.

  17. I agree George. A little color is something the NHL lacks greatly. And I mean commentators, coaches, players. All the way around. It’s just boring.

    Cliche answers to everything, and interviews that put you in a coma.

    Including some of the bigger names in the game.

    Listening to Gretzky, Crosby interviews make / made me go to sleep. Monotone , boring, lifeless.

    Somebody bust out the defibrillator and bring these people to life!

    It’s just dull responses to what they think people want to hear 99% of the time. Scripted, predictable, and automatic.