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NHL All Star Game History:
The National Hockey League All-Star Game (French: Match des Étoiles de la Ligue Nationale de Hockey) is an exhibition hockey game that traditionally marks the midway point of the National Hockey League's regular season, with many of the league's star players playing against each other. The starting lineup for the two teams, including the starting goaltender, is voted on by fans, while the remainder of the teams' rosters are chosen by the NHL's Hockey Operations Department in consultation with the teams' General Managers. The coaches for the two All-Star Game teams are typically the head coaches of the teams that, at the time of the All-Star Game roster announcements, are leading their respective conferences in point percentage (i.e. fraction of points obtained out of total possible points).
The All-Star Game is preceded by the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, a competition showing the various talents of the all-stars, and the NHL YoungStars Game, an exhibition game not exclusively featuring rookies, playing under slightly modified rules.
Given its checkered history, some fans have once again suggested that the All-Star Games be replaced with exhibition international games (for example, Canada vs. the United States , Sweden vs. Finland and the Czech Republic vs. Russia ). Proponents of such a scenario argue that these games would be much more popular with fans both in North America and Europe , thus generating more revenue for the league. In addition, the national teams would benefit from the increased exposure and more regular opportunities to play, as is the case in soccer.
Although the first official All-Star Game did not begin until the 1947-48 NHL season, there have been several occasions in the NHL where benefit games and All-Star teams were created. The first All-Star game in hockey, however, predated the NHL, when the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association had an All-Star Game on January 2, 1908 in memory of Montreal Wanderers player Hod Stuart, who had drowned three months after the Wanderers won the Stanley Cup. The proceeds of that game, which was won by the Wanderers 10-7 over a team of All-Stars from the rest of the league, went to Stuart's family.
In 2003, the game reverted back to its classic East vs. West format. Dany Heatley scored four goals, tying an All-Star Game record, plus a shootout goal. Heatley also set the record for being the youngest player to score a hat trick in the All-Star Game, a record previously held by the Edmonton Oilers' Wayne Gretzky. This shootout, the first of its kind in the NHL in the modern era, received an enthusiastic, frezied response from the crowd when it was announced, and carried on during the event. This was influential in the later decision to decide regular season games tied after overtime with a shootout, thus eliminating tie games.
The All-Star Game was dealt two serious blows in 2005. Not only was the game canceled along with the rest of the season due to the 2004-05 NHL lockout, but the subsequent collective bargaining agreement that ended the lockout stipulated that heretofore the game was to be held only in non-Olympic years. Thus, there was no All-Star Game in the 2005-06 NHL season either.
After a two-season absence, the 2007 game was played in Dallas , Texas . The West defeated the East 12-9; Daniel Briere of the Buffalo Sabres recorded a goal and four assists and was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
The Atlanta Thrashers are scheduled to host the 2008 game (they were originally scheduled to host the canceled 2005 game). The Montreal Canadiens will host the 2009 game as part of the celebration of the club's 100th anniversary. There will be no game in 2010, due to the change in the collective bargaining agreement.
Glendale , Arizona may be next in line to host a game. The Phoenix Coyotes were slated to host the 2006 game that was scheduled before the NHL decided not to hold the game during Olympic years.
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