The 2023 NHL All-Star weekend in Florida
⚙️ How it works
Decades after the NHL’s inaugural All-Star Game in 1947 (which, fun fact, was held to raise money for players’ pension funds), the weekend showcase has evolved into an opportunity for the league’s top talent to display their skill and show off their personalities through some friendly competition.
Forty-four All-Stars were selected to compete — the top player from each of the 32 teams as chosen by the NHL, plus the remaining 12 players (from a list of eligible contenders) as decided by a fan vote.
- As far as teams go, each player will represent the division they play in (Metropolitan and Atlantic in the Eastern Conference and Pacific and Central in the Western Conference).
The weekend starts off with the always fun skills competition tonight at 7 p.m. ET. Each All-Star team (more on those below) will select a player to participate in each event. Not only are these All-Stars trying to accumulate points for their squad, but the victor of each contest will also take home $30,000.
- We’ll preview the events below, but the best part of the skills competition is, without a doubt, the women. Three Team Canada and two Team USA players (highlighted by Sarah Nurse and Hilary Knight) will show the fellas what they’re made of.
Then, the players will take the ice for tomorrow’s 3 p.m. ET All-Star tournament featuring three, 20-minute 3-on-3 single elimination games to determine which division reigns supreme.
- First is the conference knockout round. The Pacific and Central will duel to decide the Western Conference winner before the Metropolitan and Atlantic squads face off for the Eastern Conference crown.
- The winners of those games advance to the championship. While the main goal of the weekend is to have fun, there’s also a $1M team prize up for grabs, so you know the boys are going to put on a stellar show.
🏒 Skills competition
With the Sunshine State hosting this year’s festivities, there are three new Florida-themed event additions to the standard skills competition lineup — Splash Shot, Pitch ’n Puck and Tendy Tandem. It’ll be must-see TV to watch these rink rats soak up the sun, and also compete in these traditional events:
Fastest skater: Despite winning the contest for three straight years from 2017 to 2019, Edmonton Oilers’ speedster captain Connor McDavid is retiring from this competition after last year’s shocking upset to the St. Louis Blues’ Jordan Kyrou.
- Who will takeover the crown? Our money is on Detroit Red Wings’ Flash doppelgänger Dylan Larkin who holds the 13.172 second record from his 2016 victory.
Hardest shot: With last year’s champion, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman and his 103.2 mph slapper out of the picture, the competition is wide-open, but knowing history repeats itself we’ll lean with one of the defensemen — Buffalo Sabre Rasmus Dahlin, Chicago Blackhawk Seth Jones or Vancouver Canuck Elias Pettersson — earning the title.
- The real challenge though is attempting to pass retired legend Zdeno Chara’s all-time record of 108.8 mph.
Breakaway challenge: Record-breaking goal scorer Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals missed his prized event last year due to COVID-19 protocols, but he’s back with a vengeance this time around, teaming up with his career rival Pittsburgh Penguin Sid “The Kid” Crosby in a heartwarming surprise. Cheers to friendship.
Accuracy shooting: When it comes to a competition based on speedy precision, we wouldn’t bet against the Oilers stars, and the league’s top point scorers, McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
- That being said, let’s not discount the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov, who played a key role in the squad’s near Stanley Cup three-peat.
🥅 The teams
Team Pacific: This may be the league’s lowest-performing division, but it boasts some of the brightest stars, including the aforementioned speedy top-scoring Oilers duo of McDavid and Draisaitl.
- And with only one defender (San Jose Sharks’ seven-time All-Star Erik Karlsson) in the lineup, they might want to bring some aloe to combat that goal-light glow. Fortunately, Vegas Golden Knight tendy Logan Thompson looks ready to flamin-go.
Team Central: Cue up Blink-182 because this roster includes reigning Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Cale Makar. Round that trio out with Dallas Stars leading scorer Jason Robertson, and this squad’s presence is anything but small.
- Plus, they boast netminders Connor Hellebuyck, the Winnipeg Jets’ 2020 Vezina Trophy winner (aka best goalie), and the Nashville Predators’ Juuse Saros.
Team Metropolitan: Featuring often-compared longtime greats Crosby and Ovechkin, not to mention the incredible playmaking ability of NY Rangers forward Artemi Panarin, this lineup includes some serious offensive firepower.
- They can get it done on defense, too. Their NY-based piped pagoda protectors, reigning Vezina-winner Ranger Igor Shesterkin and Islander Ilya Sorokin (who’s tied for second in shutouts this season), are as impenetrable as they come.
Team Atlantic: From literal brotherly love — shoutout to Ottawa’s and Florida’s gritty playmakers Brady and Matthew Tkachuk — to arch-rivals sharing a jersey (looking at you, Bruins and Leafs) — the Atlantic’s dynamic will be full of dangles, dekes and chaos.
- A few players to watch? Boston Bruin David Pastrňák cooking up a goal-scoring storm with his nemesis, Toronto Maple Leaf Mitch Marner, and tenured Lightning tendy Andrei Vasilevskiy, who provides a striking presence in the net.
📺 How to tune in
We can’t all be in Florida, so cozy up with a warm bevvy and tune in from home. The skills competition starts tonight at 7 p.m. ET before the puck drops for the 3-on-3 tourney tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET.
- Canadian viewers can watch on Sportsnet/Sportsnet Now for an English stream or TVA Sports for hockey à la française, while American fans can catch the action on either ABC or ESPN.