NHL all-star weekend returning to Toronto in 2024

The game will be staged on Saturday, Feb. 3 with the skills competition the day before.

The National Hockey League all-star game — glitz, gimmicks and goals galore — is coming ‘home’ to Toronto.

While it might seem overkill to shift a constellation of top talent to the much-satirized ‘centre of the hockey universe’, 2024 will mark almost a quarter-century since Hogtown previously hosted the showcase weekend and there had been sentiment around the league to bring it back to a traditional northern market.

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American Sun Belt cities and those with new arenas have been getting preference in the past several years. The most recent all-star game in Canada was 2012 in Ottawa and with Montreal hosting the 2022 entry draft, Toronto’s bid was a strong one.

The game will be staged on Saturday, Feb. 3 with the skills competition the day before.

“We very much look forward to welcoming the game’s biggest stars and treating our fans — and fans from around the world — to a premiere event that showcases all of what Toronto has to offer,” Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said on Saturday in Sunrise, Fla., after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s formal announcement.

Shanahan was accompanied by Leafs winger Mitch Marner, the team’s representative in South Florida and a likely participant next year with Auston Matthews, who missed the game because of a knee injury.

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“It’s going to be fun, I think (players) will enjoy it,” Marner said. “The city is always buzzing, especially for an event like this. It’s going to be colder, but nothing a good (winter) coat can’t solve.”

Also endorsing the choice was another GTA native, Richmond Hill’s Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, who is sure to be a major attraction.

“It’s obviously my hometown, which will be special,” McDavid told reporters. “I’ll have some friends and family in the stands if I’m going. It’ll be nice.”

The format for now will remain a mini-tournament of teams representing the four divisions and the skills contest a mix of traditional challenges such as hardest shot, fastest skater and target shooting.

Locally themed contrivances are increasing each year, however, much to the chagrin of purists.

So, it will be interesting to see if those are reduced or increased next year for TV ratings.
It will be the NHL’s 68th all-star game, with Toronto hosting the first unofficial event on Feb. 14, 1934 at Maple Leaf Gardens. That was a fund-raiser for Leafs defenceman Ace Bailey following his career-ending head injury.

Toronto played a select league squad and it continued as a benefit game every few years until an annual match was set up in October of 1947 between the defending Stanley Cup champions (the Leafs that year) versus the best players from the other five Original Six teams.

That ended in 1968, again at the Gardens, with the Leafs as champs and the game-winners, as league expansion began pitting East and West divisions then, later, conferences against each other, morphing into North America versus the World, the theme the previous time the game was played in Toronto at the new Air Canada Centre, in 2000.

It’s likely that Scotiabank Arena, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the former Gardens at MTU’s Mattamy Centre and Coca-Cola Coliseum will all be utilized for various festivities.

There is usually an alumni component to the weekend, as well.

“There are so many things that we can do in Toronto to celebrate the game and to make people excited about the all-star event being there,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, “because it’s more than what happens on the ice. It’s really a celebration of the game.”

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