NHL

John Scott, Owen Nolan's Called Shot, and the NHL's Best All-Star Game Moments

As John Scott showed us last year, All-Star Games can deliver from time to time.

by Mike Commito
Jan 26 2017, 7:30pm

Photo by Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, VICE Sports takes a look back at an important event from sports history for Throwback Thursday, or #TBT for all you cool kids. You can read previous installments here.

The NHL All-Star Game in Los Angles is coming up this weekend, so we here at VICE Sports thought we'd throw it back to some of the most memorable moments in ASG history.

Ace Bailey Benefit Game, 1934

Although the NHL's first official All-Star Game took place in 1947, the league had previously held benefit games in prior years in the name of worthy causes. On Valentine's Day 1934, a team of All-Stars took on the Toronto Maple Leafs in order to raise money for Irvine "Ace" Bailey. Just a couple months earlier, Bailey was the victim of a vicious attack from Bruins defenceman Eddie Shore. After sustaining a hit from behind, the Toronto winger collapsed to the ice and fractured his skull. The impact was so jarring that Bailey was reportedly read his last rites while he lay bleeding on the ice. In hospital, doctors were able to save his life but his hockey career was finished.

READ MORE: We Ranked the Greatest NHL Players of the Past 50 Years

The initiative raised more than $20,000 for the Baileys, but the game's most significant moment was when Ace and Eddie embraced and apparently buried the hatchet before the game commenced.

Gordie Howe and Gus Mortson Fight, 1948

Dropping the gloves at an All-Star Game is a rarity, but it's happened. While many point to the dust up between Gordie Howe and Maurice Richard in the rather rough 1951 contest, the only real fight at an All-Star Game occurred in 1948 when Howe took on Toronto's Gus "Old Hardrock" Mortson. In an otherwise uneventful game, the two went at it pretty good and both received fighting majors. Therefore, it's no surprise that Howe and Mortson have the most career penalty minutes in All-Star Games. But while Mr. Hockey racked up his 25 PIMs over nearly two-dozen games, scrappy "Old Hardrock" amassed 21 minutes worth of infractions in just nine All-Star appearances.

Mr. Hockey's Final All-Star Game, 1980

As far as swan songs go, you couldn't have scripted a better final All-Star Game for Gordie Howe than this. After an eight-year sabbatical, Mr. Hockey returned to the NHL for the 1979-80 season, which included a number of memorable moments but none more special than this. The game marked his 23rd All-Star appearance in a career that had spanned five decades. While Howe was now playing for the Whalers, the game was held in Detroit, and the crowd of 21,002 certainly gave No. 9 the roaring ovation he deserved. Fittingly, the 1980 All-Star Game also happened to be the first appearance for a 19-year-old Wayne Gretzky.

Gretzky Scores Four, 1983

Three years after making his first All-Star Game appearance, Gretzky dazzled fans at Nassau Coliseum when he scored four goals in the third period to power the Clarence Campbell Conference to a 9-3 victory over the Prince of Wales Conference. While the Great One had no problem finding the back of the net in the regular season, Gretzky had scored just once in his three previous All-Star appearances. He certainly made up for lost time. Those four markers set NHL records for most goals in an All-Star Game and most tallies in one period. As a result, Gretzky skated off with MVP honours and the keys to a new sports car.

Super Mario, 1988

Heading into the 1988 All-Star Game, Mario Lemieux had racked up an incredible 52 goals and 62 assists in just 54 games. He was on pace to shatter his career bests, which he eventually did, while on his way to winning his first Art Ross and Hart trophies. But before he finished the season with 168 points, Lemieux had to make a stopover in St. Louis for his second All-Star appearance. It was certainly one for the ages. Lemieux found chemistry playing on a line with Montreal's Mats Naslund, as the two combined for 11 points as the Wales Conference narrowly edged out the Campbell Conference 6-5 in overtime. Both players set new All-Star benchmarks that night—Naslund for most assists in a game (five), and Super Mario with a record-setting six-point performance. Lemieux's output was only matched 27 years later when Jakub Voracek recorded the same stat line for Team Toews at the 2015 All-Star Game. But it should be noted that Voracek's effort was bookended by two teams that combined for 29 goals, so it probably deserves an asterisk.

Owen Nolan Calls It, 1997

Before the home crowd in San Jose, future Sharks captain Owen Nolan created one of the most memorable moments in All-Star Game history. Late in the period, with two goals already in his back pocket, Nolan completed the hat trick. But hold up, we're forgetting the best part. As he skated in all alone on Dominik Hasek, he took the time to call his shot, top shelf, before wiring it high glove, to make good on his prediction. That's literally the one move that every beer league hockey player dreams about, and Nolan pulled it off in an All-Star Game against one of the best goaltenders of all time, no less.

Dany Heatley Shines, 2003

In an All-Star Game that featured a cast of future Hall of Famers that included Patrick Roy, Nicklas Lidstrom, Peter Forsberg, and Mike Modano (not to mention that Lemieux and Mats Sundin were also named to that game but had to withdraw due to injuries), it was 22-year-old Dany Heatley who stole the show. The Thrashers sophomore lit the lamp four times, tying Gretzky's All-Star record for most goals in a game. Heatley's heroics all but won the game for the Eastern Conference, and it was the first four-goal All-Star outing in a decade. And while we don't always agree with what Jeremy Roenick says now, he summed up Heatley's performance best when he said, "22 years old, you're not supposed to be pulling moves like that at 22."

Phil Kessel and the All-Star Drafts, 2011 & 2015

Not all of the best All-Star moments happen on the ice. In 2011, the NHL debuted a new draft format where team captains took turns filling out their rosters. Unfortunately, much like sixth-grade gym class, someone always has to get picked last. But you couldn't have found a better guy to be in that position than Phil Kessel. He handled the unwanted attention with grace and aplomb, despite the fact that several of his colleagues were only too happy to enjoy a laugh at his expense. In the end, it wasn't all bad for Kessel, he got to drive off in a new Honda and his team won the game.

Four years later, Kessel took centre stage again at the All-Star draft when Team Foligno announced it had brokered a deal with Team Toews, casting off Tyler Seguin in exchange for Kessel as an homage to the linked trade history.

Meanwhile, Ovechkin, who had chuckled at Kessel's misfortune in 2011, was actively lobbying to be picked last this time around so he could win the car and donate it to the Washington Ice Dogs hockey program. Although his hopes of realizing this goal at the draft were dashed, he made good on his commitment afterward.

Kessel ultimately got the last laugh, particularly with Ovechkin, when his Penguins knocked off the Capitals en route to the Stanley Cup in 2016.

John Scott, 2016

I know what you're about to ask, the NHL had All-Star Games before John Scott? It's almost hard to believe. The culmination of Scott's incredible story last season gave us one of the most unforgettable and captivating All-Star Games in recent memory. After fans stuffed the ballot boxes to get him into the game, it almost didn't happen thanks to the NHL's complete mishandling of the situation. Scott did end up making it to Nashville and he certainly didn't disappoint. He received a thunderous welcome from the crowd, he scored two goals, and levelled Patrick Kane. It couldn't possibly get better than that, right?

The Scott-Kane "fight." Photo by Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it did. Scott's team won the tournament, he got carried off the ice by his teammates, took home the MVP award, and rode off into the sunset, securing a $1 million cheque for his team. And now we just have to patiently wait to see who will play him on the silver screen.

Rest in Peace Breakaway Challenge, 2017

The Breakaway Challenge wasn't long for this world. As one of the most consistently entertaining and popular parts of the All-Star Game skills competition, it was only a matter of time before the NHL killed it. It brought us prop comedy, mini sticks, Chewbacca, and best of all, PK Subban being PK Subban. While it wasn't the first contest to get axed—everybody remembers the Rapid Fire Challenge, right—its loss will be felt the most. It would be difficult to argue if there was a single best all-time Breakaway Challenge moment, but what will be missed about it the most was simply how much fun it was, and how it often gave us the opportunity to see more player personality in a league that otherwise tries to constrain it.

Well, there you have it, ten of the most memorable moments in NHL All-Star Game history. Yes, Bruins fans, I can already hear you typing your rebuttals about how Ray Bourque's game-winning goal in Boston was left off this list. There's simply no way to capture them all, and we can only hope that after this year's All-Star weekend festivities we can update this inventory with some new memories.