$1 million winners, highlight moments and how it all played out
On Thursday afternoon, a sea of enthusiastic hockey fans gathered along the red carpet, eagerly anticipating glimpses of their favorite NHL All-Stars. Among the players making their way down the red carpet were the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner and William Nylander, who graciously paused to take pictures with fans and sign autographs.
For dedicated fans like Mike Thomas, who travelled from San Jose, attending All-Star games is a tradition. “It’s really cool to meet the biggest stars in the world,” he shared. “We come to all the All-Star games to try and meet the players and get an autograph.”
Fan Fair at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre
The red carpet event marked the commencement of the NHL All-Star weekend and the Fan Fair at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. For some, like Barbara Klapin, anticipation led to hours spent in line, hoping for a front-row view along the red carpet. Klapin, a devoted collector of Maple Leafs autographs, was particularly eager for Leafs superstar and All-Star captain Auston Matthews to sign her jersey.
The Fan Fair, spanning over 3,000 square feet at the convention center, featured skills challenges, a display of NHL memorabilia, the league’s 19 awards, and an opportunity for fans to get up close with the coveted Stanley Cup, immortalized in photographs. Fans expressed awe at the historical significance of being in proximity to the iconic trophy.
Maple Leafs Legend Al Iafrate!
Former Maple Leafs defenseman Al Iafrate, a figure etched in the memories of fans, was present to sign autographs, evoking nostalgia for enthusiasts like Darren, who remembered Iafrate from his childhood. The Fan Fair also offered meet-and-greets with NHL players and alumni, creating moments of connection between fans and their hockey idols.
This marks the ninth occasion Toronto has hosted the All-Star Game and the first time since 2000, promising a weekend filled with excitement, celebration, and a shared love for the sport of hockey. The NHL estimates that over 25,000 people will partake in the festivities, transforming Toronto into a hockey haven for four exhilarating days
Mcdavid Wins Skills Competition
Connor McDavid emerged triumphant in the NHL All-Star Games Skills Competition, securing the coveted top prize of $1 million. McDavid, along with several other talented players, participated in a series of challenging events, including the fastest skater, one-timer challenge, passing challenge, hardest shot, stick handling, accuracy shooting, one-on-one, and an obstacle course.
In the fastest skater competition, McDavid showcased his exceptional speed by narrowly defeating Mathew Barzal with a margin of 0.111 seconds, clinching the first position. This marked McDavid’s sixth appearance in the fastest skater event, with previous victories in 2017 (13.02 seconds), 2018 (13.454 seconds), and 2019 (13.378 seconds). This time, he completed the course in 13.408 seconds.
Moving on to the passing challenge, McDavid faced a bit of a struggle, securing 10 points and landing ninth among the 11 contestants. However, he quickly rebounded in the stick-handling contest, dominating the competition and finishing first with a remarkable time of 25.755 seconds, outpacing the second-placed Barzal by 1.174 seconds.
However, McDavid quickly rebounded in the stick-handling contest, dominating the competition and finishing first with a remarkable time of 25.755 seconds, outpacing the second-placed Barzal by 1.174 seconds.
As the sole defenseman and the second-youngest participant in the contest, Cale Makar asserted his dominance over the four forwards he faced. In a powerful display, the Avalanche defenseman unleashed a formidable shot with a speed of 102.5 mph, narrowly surpassing Canucks’ star forward J.T. Miller, whose top shot reached a nearly identical 102.3 mph.
Makar, a robust 187-pound defenseman, is known for his potent slap shot, typically scoring from closer to the blue line, a characteristic often associated with defensemen. His average shot speed of 64.63 mph places him in the NHL’s 89th percentile, showcasing his exceptional shooting ability.
In the accuracy shooting contest, McDavid showcased his precision by hitting all four targets with just four shots, completing the challenge in 9.158 seconds. He narrowly edged out Auston Matthews, who finished in 9.341 seconds.
While the one-on-one contest against Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexander Georgiev proved challenging for McDavid, as he secured only three points and finished seventh out of eight, he redeemed himself in the obstacle course. McDavid conquered the course in an impressive 40.606 seconds, well ahead of the second-placed Cale Makar, who completed it in 43.435 seconds.
Bieber Loves Hockey!
Before the final game of the all star tournament was played a video was displayed on the scoreboard screens, featuring Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews narrating the story of a Stratford, Ontario kid who grew up playing hockey. This young enthusiast eventually became one of the world’s biggest pop stars but remained a hockey fan, just like millions across the province.
Imagine the surreal experience for Justin Bieber, serving as the celebrity captain for Team Matthews in the 2024 Honda (U.S.)/Rogers (Canada) NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Arena.
For Bieber, the enthusiasm was mutual. “This has been unbelievable,” Bieber expressed to ESPN. “I feel like I’ve actually had vivid dreams about this at night, so it’s beautiful.”
Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner, familiarly calling Bieber “Biebs,” highlighted their camaraderie. Having spent time with Bieber, Marner disclosed that the pop star is an avid game enthusiast, always playing with a competitive edge. Whether it was games against Tyson Barrie and Auston Matthews or any other matchup, it was always a do-or-die scenario for Bieber.
When Team Matthews selected Marner in the Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Player Draft on Thursday, teaming him up with Matthews, William Nylander, and Morgan Rielly, Marner knew Bieber’s expectation: “We’re winning this thing.”
Bieber Warms Up With Matthews & Marner
In a surprising twist, Bieber took to the ice for warm-ups in full uniform with Team Matthews, wearing jersey No. 6 in blue, customized in collaboration with his fashion brand, drew house. His presence sparked playful one-on-one encounters with players, as Los Angeles Kings goalie Cam Talbot noted, “He actually had some pretty good hands out there, so it was fun to go one-on-one against him.”
Although Bieber missed the net both times, the photographers captured iconic moments of him interacting with various players, embodying Bieber Fever in the arena.
Marni Fuzzy Wuzzy Brushed Dot Padded Jacket in Tulip
The highlight of warm-up wasn’t just Bieber’s on-ice participation but also his Marni Fuzzy Wuzzy Brushed Dot Padded Jacket in Tulip, priced at $4,600. The attention-grabbing coat stood out, especially when juxtaposed with Boston Bruins coach Jim Montgomery’s casual attire.
Montgomery shared, “It was great being around him. He was so into it, and he had real emotion.” Marner echoed the sentiment, emphasizing how Bieber’s fervour and desire to win made him an awesome presence behind the bench.
For a night, the NHL All-Star Game became a fusion of hockey, music, and unforgettable moments, leaving fans and players alike with a unique and memorable experience.
Who won the All Star Game in Toronto
Leafs’ own Matthews takes home MVP
While McDavid emerged victorious in the individual competition, it was Auston Matthews, representing Team Matthews, who claimed the All-Star tournament title. As the league’s top goal scorer, Matthews showcased his prowess by leading Team Matthews to a 7-4 triumph over Team McDavid in the final of the 3-on-3 all-star mini-tournament on Saturday. With two goals, including the decisive game-winner, and an assist, the superstar solidified his team’s victory and left a lasting impact on the All-Star weekend. The win earned Matthews the MVP title, and the victorious team will share a lucrative $1-million prize.
“The whole weekend in itself is special for all of us, especially the host city and the hometown guys,” said Matthews. “Nice to cap it off with the win. Everybody goes home happy.”
Reflecting on the final, McDavid humorously remarked, “The defensive system broke down there a little bit. We left our goalies hung out to dry.”
Marner, a native of Markham, Ontario, expressed his joy at being part of the event. “Amazing. I’ve dreamt of being in all-star games for my whole life. I’ve watched all-star games from my couch, my carpet with my parents. You always dream of being a part of one, and to have it in the city, it’s pretty remarkable.“
The intensity heightened in the final as players vied for the prize money. Rielly noted, “That last game, there was a lot more speed. Not just floating around.”
In the semifinal, Team McDavid overcame a late two-goal deficit before defeating Team MacKinnon 4-3 in a shootout. Team Matthews won its opener 6-5 over Team Hughes in another shootout.
McDavid acknowledged the special presence of Bieber, saying, “An icon, really. What he’s doing for hockey, what he’s doing for Toronto and Canada as a whole, it’s amazing.”
The NHL, opting for a two-team format with an all-star player draft, revived the skills competition in 2024 after a decline in interest. McDavid, involved in the planning, deemed it a success, emphasizing, “It’s ultimately up to the fans. We were here to put on a show, and I feel like we did that.” They certainly did!
Next season, instead of the All Star Game there will be an in-season 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off between Canada, the US, Finland and Sweden. The tourney will consist of a total of seven games played during a nine-day period from Feb. 12-20, along with two practice days, Feb. 10-11, and will be held in two yet-to-be named North American cities, one in Canada and one in the United States.
by Myles Shane