The 2020 All-Star Game was exactly as expected: quintessentially, St. Louis. The St. Louis Blues had four players representing the Central Division and head coach Craig Berube was behind the bench. Even with those powerhouses in place, the Central lost and the Pacific won. No matter. The weekend fanfare, with alumni, St. Louis natives and Laila, was a show in and of itself.
What Are the Chances, St. Louis?
For the first 23 years, the location of the All-Star Game was determined by the defending Stanley Cup champions, who were hosts the following season. That was until 1969-70 when the NHL changed the format to East vs. West and alternated the game’s location between the two conferences.
Ironically, the Blues were the first Western team to host an All-Star Game in 1970 after losing to the Montreal Canadiens in the previous Stanley Cup Final.
Since changing the format to mix up the host city, there have only been three instances, prior to this season, when the Stanley Cup champions hosted the game the following season. However, the Blues are the only team to host the All-Star Game following their first Stanley Cup championship.
When it was determined, on Jan. 1, 2019, that St. Louis was to host the 2020 All-Star Game, they were still in the NHL basement and new of this honor invigorated the team and the city.
The celebration from their Stanley Cup win continued through the summer and into this season, so it was fitting the All-Star Game landed in the Lou.
St. Louis Blues All-Stars
Alex Pietrangelo, Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Binnington were voted in and David Perron was voted in as the “Last Man In” on the Central Division roster. Berube was named an All-Star coach after the first team was announced.
“It’s special, especially to have that opportunity with [the game] being in St. Louis,” Pietrangelo told the Blues website. “It’s a pretty special deal to be able to do this at home, and it’s going to be more fun sharing the opportunity with my family.”
It was Binnington’s first All-Star appearance and he embraced it. Prior to the game, he hyped it up by exchanging Tweets with Canadian native Justin Bieber. It ended with Bieber’s response to Binnington: “How bout 10 thousand dollars to charity (if) I score on you and you donate to a charity of my choice and we film it?”
The challenge didn’t happen, but San Jose Sharks’ Tomas Hertl made a great go at it:
St. Louis Blues Essentials
What made the All-Star Game in St. Louis so special? Highlights included Charles Glenn coming out of retirement to sing the national anthem, Laila announcing the Blues All-Stars and the alumni appreciation.
Of course, Brett Hull, the legendary Blues alumnus and honorary captain of the Central Division, engaged the host city more than the other alumni in attendance. His father, Bobby, won MVP in that first year the All-Star Game was in St. Louis.
Then there was St. Louis native Jon Hamm. The city loves him and he loves the city. He has been animated about the Blues’ Cup victory and about being a sports fan from St. Louis:
Not to outshine superfan Hamm, but fellow St. Louis native, Jenna Fischer also piped in:
“Being here for the Stanley Cup and then coming back for the All-Star Game, I can’t tell you the energy that is infused in the city,” said actress Jenna Fischer, honorary captain of the Atlantic Division. “I was down at Union Station today as part of the Fan Fair, and that was amazing. Having the Stanley Cup on display in our city for people to see, I mean, there was a line out the door.”
Wayne Gretzky may have only spent one season with the Blues, but it made an impact. His wife and her family are from St. Louis, so it’s like his second home.
Other Memorable Moments
Matthew and Brady Tkachuk were born and raised in St. Louis. Their father, Keith, played for the Blues for nine seasons and is one of the best U.S. born players in history. He’s a big part of the city and the Blues organization.
Matthew Tkachuk decided to show his allegiance to the city with a surprise that made the Enterprise Center explode:
The hometown fans also gave a warm welcome back to former Blue, T.J. Oshie. He was a fan favorite when he played for the team and he is still respected in St. Louis. It was his first All-Star appearance and the fact it was in St. Louis made it that much more special for him:
“It’s pretty surreal. (There are still) a lot of ’74 Oshie’ jerseys out there. It goes to show you the loyalty of the fans here. Obviously (Washington) D.C. is where my career really started to take off… but to come back here, where I really started growing my family and had a lot of special memories and to the place I was drafted to, it’s a pretty cool story (I will) be able to tell my kids when they’re older and my grandkids after that.”– T.J. Oshie told reporters at the NHL All-Star Media Day
All-Star Weekend couldn’t have been hosted by a more perfect city than the one still on a high from their first Stanley Cup championship. A fun time was had by all and some hockey happened too. The game was light-hearted, which was to be expected, and the Pacific Division defeated the Atlantic 5-4.
Next season’s All-Star Weekend will be in Sunrise, Florida, the second time it’s been hosted by the Florida Panthers. I don’t know if it will compare to the excitement and buzz of St. Louis, but it will certainly be warmer.
With a Mass Communications and Journalism degree from Florida International University, I completed internships with the Florida Panthers Hockey Club and Sports Illustrated. I’ve published several articles for various outlets, including one in ESPN Magazine and one on espn.com.