Looking back on the 2020 NHL All Star Game

Zach Remelius , Courier Staff

The NHL’s best and brightest converged in St. Louis for the 2020 NHL All-Star weekend. It was the first time the city had hosted the event since 1988, in what has been quite a 12-month run for St. Louis hockey fans. Tens of thousands of fans descended to the Enterprise Center to watch the best in the league do their thing, see the exhibits at fan fest and wait five to six hours for a few seconds with the Stanley Cup. This was the first time the host city was the defending Stanley Cup Champions and it made it extra special for the fans in St. Louis.

The hockey itself started Friday Night with the skills competition. The night got off to a fun start. The Central Division All-Stars came out of the tunnel ready to warm up. Patrick Kane was one of the first ones out the tunnel and team captain Nathan MacKinnon pushed him out on the ice to take a warm up lap. MacKinnon proceeded to then hold everyone back while Kane was getting relentlessly booed by Blues fans. He noticed this and just looked at the rest of the team and had to laugh. The crowd got on their feet for 15 year old Holly Connor, who is blind and autistic, after she let out a beautiful rendition of the national anthem.

The skills themselves were a fun time for fans. The night started with Matt Barzal upsetting Connor McDavid in the speed competition. McDavid was the three time defending champion, and it was a surprise to see him lose. The hometown fans got on their feet for the next one in the goalie save street challenge. Fighting off 10 pucks in a row, Blues goalie Jordan Binnington pulled out a victory. Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin surprised everyone when he showed off his shooting skills in the accuracy competition. It was then time for the most exciting event of the night: three on three hockey between nine players from both the women’s national teams in Canada and the United States. Anyone who follows hockey knows these two teams cannot stand each other and it was apparent in this game. They played two 10-minute periods and Team Canada pulled out a 2-1 victory. Canadian goalie Ann-Renne Desbiens made 18 saves, including a few in tight to lead the team. The crowd was into the game and the players were trying their hardest,which is unusual for this weekend. To finish out the night, Shea Weber won the hardest shot contest and Kane, to a chorus of boos, won the Shooting Stars contest.

The night also saw a lot of St. Louis hockey legends come out in support of the event. Wayne Gretzky led the night off by giving a speech about how cool this is for the city and how much fun he had playing in the city, even if it only was for two months. Al MacInnis came out with a wooden stick to show off he still has the the hard slapshot that made him a menace and eventual Hall of Famer. Hockey’s fun uncle Brett Hull came out for the Shooting Stars. Franchise leading scorer Bernie Federko made an appearance to help out St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo in the accuracy shooting contest. Finally at the end, Keith Tkachuk helped his sons Brady and Matthew at the Shooting Stars contest.

The All-Star game itself was nothing to write home about. No one tried and eventually, the Pacific division won the tourney, but for the fans in attendance, it is an experience they will never forget. More people will remember it for a couple of emotional moments for Blues fans. Laila, the Blues superfan who is battling hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a disease where the body creates too many cells for the immune cells, came out and announced the four Blues All- Stars during introductions. She knocked it out of the park and has a future in broadcasting if she wants it. Then, Charles Glenn came out to sing the anthem with no dry eye in the building. He was the Blues anthem singer for 19 years and had to retire to deal with his M.S. Unfortunately, those who were watching on NBC Sports couldn’t see it as the broadcast felt it wasn’t pertinent. Kane got cheered for when he scored and then booed when fans realized who it was in what was another humorous moment. The game ended Saturday night and the country again got to see what an awesome hockey town St. Louis is.