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The 21st NHL All-Star Game
1 2 3 OT Total
All-Stars 1 1 1 - 3
Toronto Maple Leafs 1 2 1 - 4
Date January 16, 1968
Arena Maple Leaf Gardens
City Toronto, Canada
MVP Bruce Gamble, Toronto Maple Leafs
Attendance 15,753
← 1967 1969 →

The 21st National Hockey League National Hockey League All-Star Game was played in Maple Leaf Gardens on January 16, 1968, where the host Toronto Maple Leafs battled a team of all-stars from the other NHL teams.

Death of Bill Masterton

Bill Masterton being stretchered off, January 13, 1968.

The game, compared to other years, was in a somber mood. Two days before, Bill Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars, was hit by two Oakland Seals players on the ice, causing him to lose his balance and hit his head on the ice. Masterton was pronounced dead the next day.

The death of Masterton raised an issue about the use of helmets in hockey - whether they should be mandatory, and whether they affect a player's abilities. Response was mixed in the helmet debate even in the days following Masterton's death: Gordie Howe claimed that he would not, but nevertheless encouraged the next generation of players to do so, while Bobby Hull claimed that he was in serious consideration. At one extreme, Stafford Smythe claimed that helmets should be made mandatory.

As for the game itself, only two players would wear helmets: J. C. Tremblay, who had worn a helmet all season, and Brian Conacher, as a result of Masterton's death.

On the day of the all-star game, the National Hockey League Writers' Association proposed that a trophy should be presented in Masterton's honor, and by the end of the season, the league made it a reality. The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded to each year to the player who best exemplifies dedication, perseverance, and sportsmanship.

The Game

The 1968 classic was also home to a notable first: because Toronto goaltender Johnny Bower was injured and could not play, he was replaced with Al Smith, their starting minor league goaltender, becoming the first player to play in the all-star game despite having not played with the Leafs the previous year.

Bobby Orr played in his first All Star game and suffered a shoulder injury, January 16, 1968.

As it turned out, this year would be the last in which the defending champions faced off against a team consisting of the "best of the rest." NHL president Clarence Campbell hinted that the following year would be the first in which there would be an East-versus-West battle, citing that the game could be easily moved to different cities. The 21st classic would also be the last in which the teams were determined based on the previous season's First and Second All-Star Teams, a move supported by the absence of then-rookie Bobby Orr in the previous year's game and that the game had moved to mid-season. Orr wore jersey #5 (Jean Béliveau wore #4) and was again injured in the shoulder by a Frank Mahovlich check. This caused Orr to miss the next four games.


Toronto Maple Leafs All-Stars
Final Score 4 3
Head Coach Punch Imlach Toe Blake (Montreal Canadiens)
Lineup First All-Star Team:

Second All-Star Team:

Other Players:

Scoring Summary
  • Oliver (Mahovlich, Hillman) 5:56 first
  • Stanley (Stemkowski, Carleton) 7:56 second
  • Stemkowski (Carleton, Rupp) 16:36 second
  • Ellis (Mahovlich, Hillman) 5:56 third
  • Mikita (Hull, Tremblay) 19:53 first (shorthanded)
  • Wharram (Mikita) 0:35 second
  • Ullman (Howe, Orr) 8:23 third
  • Stemkowski 14:10 first
  • Walton 14:42 third
  • Howell 17:54 first
  • Howe 3:53 second
  • Howe 14:42 third
Win/Loss W - Al Smith L - Glenn Hall
Shots on Goal
Toronto 9 18 14 41
All-Stars 19 11 10 40

See Also


  • Podnieks, Andrew (2000). The NHL All-Star Game: 50 years of the great tradition. Toronto: HarperCollins. ISBN 000200058X. 
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