Last February, following the NHL All-Star festivities in Sunrise, Florida, none other than world-famous Stratford-born pop artist Justin Bieber announced that the 2024 NHL All-Star Game would be hosted by and held in Toronto. Soon after Bieber’s announcement, Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman followed suit, releasing a statement describing their eagerness to bring the NHL All-Star Game back to Toronto for the first time since 2000, and for the ninth time in history.
Now, with the 2024 NHL All-Star Game coming on February 3, everybody in the city is buzzing. Earlier in the month, the NHL unveiled the first and second batches of players who would be involved in the All-Star Game, including dazzling Toronto Maple Leaf forward Auston Matthews, Tampa Bay Lightning Forward (and current point leader) Nikita Kucherov, and Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon.
Soon after this initial batch of players was announced, the NHL revealed a Fan Vote so that fans could have their say in which other players get to join the initial batches. Taking this upon themselves like a mission, Maple Leafs fans worldwide knew how important it would be to get as many Leafs players into the All-Star game as possible. Players like William Nylander and Morgan Rielly were at the top of the rally list, likely due to Nylander’s stellar season this year and Rielly’s consistent high-level performance. Fans also united to ensure Leafs forward Mitch Marner could join in on the All-Star fun for the third time in his NHL career after being a part of the Atlantic Division rosters in 2020 and 2023, respectively.
On January 13, the NHL took to X to announce the finalized rosters after the Fan Vote, confirming that Nylander, Rielly, and Marner would join Matthews at the All-Star game. Other notable Fan Voted stars include goaltenders Jeremy Swayman (of the Boston Bruins) and Thatcher Demko (of the Vancouver Canucks), among many others.
The All-Star Game started a tradition in 2011 in which the players would nominate two captains and hold an “All-Star Fantasy Draft,” a format that quickly became a fan favourite. The two captains would nominate their teammates from the batch of players, after which the two teams would play against each other in one All-Star Game. Since the 2015/16 season, however, each NHL All-Star Game that followed had a revised format that would have all players automatically sorted into four teams according to their divisions: Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific. This allowed for three games instead of just one or two knockout games, followed by one last game between the final two teams standing. For the 2024 NHL All-Star game, it was announced that there would be a combination of the All-Star Fantasy Draft format with the four-division-team tradition, which excited fans of both traditions. Celebrities would be paired up with the captains of each division team to help them select their teammates and complete their rosters.
Along with the return of the All-Star Draft, The Professional Women’s Hockey League will be holding their own event, featuring a three-on-three display of their best players. In an interview with the League, NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer stated, “There’s something for everyone. Our players will be involved. The new women’s league’s great players will be involved and then our alumni.” Along with these new spins on classic trends, the NHL reaffirmed their consistent prize tradition for the winning team of the All-Star Game – $1,000,000 that the team can put towards a charity of their choice.
Earlier this week, to ramp up even more excitement for the All-Star festivities happening in Toronto, the NHL and Justin Bieber unveiled special edition jerseys that would be worn by the players and were available to order at Toronto-based MLSE merch store RealSports Apparel. Despite initially receiving mixed reviews, the NHL and Bieber don’t plan on changing up these designs in any way – having a refreshing take on all things “All-Star” seems to be the main theme of this year’s event. Rightfully so, too, because it looks like the designs are already growing on people after seeing players wear the jerseys.
Between the blends of formats old and new, combined with the inclusion of the PWHL and collaborating with Justin Bieber for jersey designs, one thing is clear – no one does All-Star quite like Toronto.
Photos Editor (Volume 50) — Daanish is wrapping up his final year at UTM, majoring in Technology, Coding & Society, and minoring in Mathematics and Cinema Studies. He's aware of how odd that combination is, but that is enough to describe him in a nutshell. Carrying his cameras wherever he goes, you can find Daanish furiously writing Letterboxd reviews, cheering on the Maple Leafs, and blasting the Jonas Brothers any chance he gets.