The 2023 NHL All Star Weekend Makes a Splash in Sunrise


The NHL’s annual All Star Weekend took place on February 3rd and 4th this year, in Sunrise, Florida, home of the Florida Panthers. Friday, February 3rd, saw the seven-event Skills Competition, while the traditional three-on-three All Star Game itself took place on Saturday, the 4th. The weekend circled around Florida: black, teal and pink jerseys, the NHL All-Star Beach Festival, and a Skills Competition chock-full of beach-themed events.

The 12 players who were voted in by fans on social media or the NHL website.

On January 5th, the first round of All Star Selections were made, one player for each team. The remaining twelve attendees were chosen by fan vote on the NHL website and social media platforms like Twitter. Fifteen players were chosen for the first time, including league standouts such as Bruins’ goalie Linus Ullmark and Stars’ star forward Jason Robertson, while Caps’ Alexander Ovechkin was chosen for the eighth time in his eighteen year career, and Oilers’ forward Connor McDavid was selected for the sixth straight year. Panthers’ captain Alexander Barkov, Golden Knights’ Chandler Stephenson, and Sabres’ Rasmus Dahlin were put in last-minute to replace injured players.

Ovechkin and Crosby assisting Sergei Ovechkin in his All Star Weekend debut.

The Skills Competition this year consisted of seven events, four traditional, one brand-new and two Florida-specific. The Fastest Skater event returned, with Carolina Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov winning with a time of 13.699 for one full lap around the rink. The Hardest Shot winner was Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson, with a shot speed of 103.2 miles per hour. The Accuracy Shooting competition was changed this year to a knock-out style format: Oilers’ Connor McDavid posted the fastest time but placed third, the win itself went to Islanders’ Brock Nelson with a 4/4 in 12.419 seconds (McDavid went 4/4 in 9.497). The final event to return was the much-anticipated Breakaway Challenge, where players showcase their creativity and showmanship to be voted on by fans. The winner this year was Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin’s son Sergei, who scored on goalie Roberto Luongo, assisted by both Ovechkin himself and Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby. It was maybe the cutest moment of the Skills Competition, and Sergei earned 10s across the board for a perfect score.

Aside from the four traditional events, 2023 introduced three new activities to the mix. Replacing the usual Save Streak event came Tendy Tandem, where All Star goalies worked together to shoot across the ice and make shootout saves. Said saves were made against other All Stars, as well as members of the Canadian and American womens’ national hockey teams, with Team Canada’s Sarah Nurse stealing the show with her goal on Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin. The event was won by the Central Division goalies: Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck and Predators’ Juuse Saros. The Happy Gilmore (there were a surprising number of Happy Gilmore references at this year’s Skills Event) themed Splash Shot event was essentially a dunk tank, with players hitting pucks at targets to sink their opponents into cold Florida water. The event was won by Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche. The last event on the docket was the Pitch ‘n Puck, where players used hockey sticks to play a par-4 golf hole. The event was won by Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki, who finished with a birdie.

The Skills Competition saw an 18% dip in ratings and a 6% dip in viewership from the previous year. Fans were critical of the choppy broadcasting and out-dated references (especially for a league attempting to increase viewership among young fans), but there were numerous bright spots ranging from cute to funny to impressive. And this downward trend was certainly not matched by the next day’s activities.

On Saturday came the All-Star Game itself, played in the traditional 3-on-3 style with four teams, each representing one of the NHL’s divisions. Both the Canadian and American national anthems were sung, by country singer SACHA and alt-rock singer Andrew McMahon, respectively. Pop-punk band Fall Out Boy also performed during the second intermission.

The MVP of the 2023 All Star Game was host team’s Matthew Tkachuk.

The first round saw the Central Division win 6-4 to the Pacific, with the Avs’ Nathan MacKinnon and Coyotes’ Clayton Keller scoring two goals apiece. Then came the Eastern Semifinal, with the Atlantic Division pulling out a 10-6 win against the Metro. There were hat tricks on both sides: Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk and Blue Jackets’ Johnny Gaudreau, but the Atlantic also saw a flurry of goals from the rest of the roster which eventually led to their win. The ASG final was won by the Atlantic Division 7-5, with Flames’ Dylan Larkin picking up his fourth and fifth wins of the day. The MVP of the All-Star Game was Matthew Tkachuk, with a hat trick and four total goals. The games were live streamed by ESPN and ABC and saw a 56% increase in ratings and 31% in viewership from the previous year.

The All-Star Game is just one of the NHL’s fun, fan-favorite events of the year, and the 2023 edition certainly showcased both the strengths and weaknesses of the weekend. Next year’s All Star Weekend will take place in Toronto on the first weekend of February, hosted by the Toronto Maple Leafs.