When I was a kid, I absolutely loved the All-Star Game - up to a point.
I'd get all cranked up on soda and stand glued to the spot during the player introductions, always the most glamourous part of the game. In the 80's the "glamour" consisted of bare lights, a rousing 80's keyboard anthem and miles of bad hockey hair. By the end of the first period I'd be in the basement pretending I was Wayne Gretzky and winging tennis balls off the washing machine, the game itself forgotten.
As a time capsule, here's the 1980 All-Star Game player introductions at the brand spanking new Joe Louis Arena in Motor City. Of note, this is Gretzky's first All-Star Game and Gordie Howe's last.
The Skills Competition was like every kid's dream to watch and remains better than the game itself. Here's the breakaway competition from 2002.
Let's go with the shooting accuracy comp in a random year - 1996 - which has all the big names you can think of, plus Brendan Shanahan as a Hartford Whaler being blown away by Mark Messier going 4 for 4.
The 1991 All-Star game may be the most memorable in the past 25 years. Held in Chicago Stadium during the start of the Gulf War, the anthem before the game was a complete madhouse and the roof almost came off the old building.
The following video showing highlights of that 1991 weekend is typical of the production values that the NHL employed at the time - full-on cornball. But there's still good stuff in here, particularly Phil Esposito letting off some kind of flash-bomb taped to the end of his stick during the old-timers game. And you thought Ovechkin's hat and glasses trick was flashy?
Of course, we have to end it with Owen Nolan's called shot against Dominik Hasekin 1997 (with glowing puck). This video shows his last two goals of the hat-trick with the big moment coming about 50 seconds in. Still one of the best things I've seen in a hockey game.
Hope everyone enjoys the All-Star weekend here in Ottawa for the first time.