What Is The NHL All Star Game?

What Is The NHL All Star Game

The NHL All-Star Game is a special game played by a group of selected National Hockey League players. This game has been a league tradition since 1947, although the format has changed over the years. In addition to the actual game, there is a series of competitions in which the same players involved in the game can participate and compete, called the All-Star Skills Competition. The game happens once every season, marking the halfway point in the regular hockey season.

Although it is referred to as a single game, it is actually a series of three mini-games, combining to make one full hockey game, and therefore it is called the NHL All-Star Game. This mini-tournament is a way for the league to bring together the top players from each team to add variety to the season for hockey fans to watch, as well as a fun way for the players to compete against old and new teammates.

  • Venue: FLA Live Arena (changes yearly)
  • Location: Sunrise, Florida
  • Date: February 3 and 4, 2023 (changes yearly)
  • First Game: 1947
  • Most Player Selections: Gordie Howe (23)


The current format of the NHL All-Star game is actually a mini tournament. The players are split up into teams by division, making up the four teams in the tournament. Two of these teams will play in one semifinal, and the other two will play in the other semifinal. Whichever division’s team won the All-Star Skills Competition the night before gets to pick which team they play in their semifinal game. Then, the remaining two teams will play each other.

The game format in the NHL All-Star Game is different from a regular NHL game. In the All-Star Game, there are two 10-minute halves in which teams play three-on-three. The winner of each semifinal moves on to the final game. If there is a tie in any of these games, a three-round shootout will ensue to determine a winner. The winner of the final game is declared the winner of the All-Star Game.


The NHL All-Star Game consists of four different teams. The four teams are the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Pacific, and Central teams. The teams are chosen based on the division of the NHL team that the individual player plays for at that current time. Each team has 11 players, consisting of nine skaters and two goalies. The nine skaters are broken up into three different lines of three players for making line changes throughout the games. The team that wins the final game will earn the NHL All-Star Game trophy and a monetary prize.


The location of the NHL All-Star Game changes every year and is selected at least a year in advance. It is always held in the home arena of one team in the league, but there is no set order. While historically the location has changed between climates, recent years have seen NHL All-Star Games played in warmer-weather locations, such as Florida and California. Since there are a week's worth of immersive experiences provided during the All-Star break, host cities must be willing and able to support a large influx of fans and tourists.


The NHL All-Star Game was first held in 1947, and the game itself has gone through a number of changes over the years. Between 1947 and 1950, the format of the All-Star Game was a faceoff between two teams: the team that had won the previous year’s Stanley Cup, and another team that consisted of members from various other NHL Teams, known as the All-Star Team. This changed briefly in 1951 and 1952, where the First Team All-Stars would play against the Second Team All-Stars. However, this idea only lasted two years, and the previous format of Stanley Cup winners facing the All-Stars returned in 1953, lasting until 1968.

In 1967, the All-Star Game (which had been held in either October or November since 1947), moved to the middle of the NHL season, now occurring in mid-to-late January or early February. In 1969, the format of the All-Star Game was changed a third time, and now consisted of a game held between the two major conferences of the NHL, the Wales and Campbell Conference, also known as the Eastern and Western Conferences. This format persisted uninterrupted until 2009, with only a few interruptions.

In 2011, the NHL changed the format of the All-Star Game once again. This time, the teams for the game were chosen by their captains, who were allowed to name the teams after themselves and select players with alternating picks, regardless of their conference or nationality. Finally, in 2016, the NHL introduced its current, divisional-tournament-based format for the All Star Game, which has persisted through the present day.

Across its history, the NHL All-Star Game has been canceled or not held eight times, for the following reasons:

  • 1966: The game was moved to the middle of the season.
  • 1995: 1994-1995 NHL Lockout.
  • 2005: 2004-2005 NHL Lockout.
  • 2006: 2006 Torino Winter Olympics.
  • 2010: 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
  • 2013: 2012-2013 NHL Lockout.
  • 2014: 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
  • 2021: COVID-19 pandemic.


Where is the NHL All-Star Game located?

The NHL All-Star game is located in a different ice hockey arena each year. The location is chosen each year based on a few required characteristics. First, the rink must be large enough to host the game as well as the skills competitions. It must also be able to fit thousands of fans, so larger arenas are typically preferred. The NHL typically picks the location based on the city’s passion for hockey and its capability to accommodate a large number of visiting fans.

Can any professional hockey player participate in the NHL All-Star Game?

No, not any professional hockey player can participate in the National Hockey League’s All-Star game. Only the players voted by fans and selected by the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department can play in the NHL All-Star game. The players that are selected each year tend to be the most skilled or the top point earners for each team. Based on who the fans select or who earns the most votes, the NHL’s Operations Department will then select the remaining ten players per team.

How often is there an NHL All-Star Game?

The NHL All-Star Game occurs once a year. The game is usually held in late January or early February, around the halfway point of the NHL season. This gives the players a break to rest mid-season and something to look forward to.