On This Date in Sports February 12, 1985: Mario Stars as Rookie

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The NHL All-Star Game comes to Calgary for the first time, as Wales Conference beats the Campbell Conference 6-4 at the Olympic Saddledome. With two goals, including the game-winner and an assist, Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins is named the game’s MVP. Lemieux was the first rookie to win the NHL All-Star MVP, as well as the youngest to win the MVP at the age of 19.


Born October 5, 1965, in Montreal, Mario Lemieux was the next superstar in the NHL when he made his debut in 1984. He was the most anticipated rookie in the NHL in years, as his play with the Laval Voisins of the QMJHL had drawn comparisons to Wayne Gretzky. So valued was Lemieux, that the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins were tanking games in a blatant race to the bottom in 1984. Mario Lemieux scored on his first shift with the Penguins and selected to play in the All-Star Game while winning the Calder Trophy given to the NHL’s top rookie. 


Players in the 1985 NHL All-Star Game took part in the Canadian version of We Are the World, a song called “Tears are not Enough” to raise money for Ethiopian famine relief. The All-Star Game took on a Western Theme, in Canada’s famous rodeo town, with the Saddledome, which opened two years earlier designed to look like a horse’s saddle. The coaches were the same from the previous two Stanley Cup Finals with Al Arbour of the New York Islanders coaching the Wales Conference, while Glenn Sather of the Edmonton Oilers led the Campbell Conference team.  


The Rivalry of Alberta was alive in well in Calgary as all members of the Edmonton Oilers, including Wayne Gretzky, were booed during pregame introductions and throughout the game, drawing the ire of Glenn Sather. It was the first All-Star Game that used honorary captains, Glenn Hall, a legendary goalie with the Chicago Black Hawks, and Guy LaFleur, who recently retired from the Montreal Canadiens served as the honorary captains. The ceremonial puck drop came from space, as Marc Garneau, the first Canadian to go into space, used a puck he took with him on the Space Shuttle a few months earlier. 


The Wales Conference struck first, as Ron Francis of the Hartford Whalers scored 1:40 into the game. Tim Kerr of the Philadelphia Flyers scored four minutes later to give the team Wales Conference a 2-0 lead. Marcel Dionne of the Los Angeles Kings scored at 6:31 to get the Campbell Conference on the board. Later, Miroslav Frycer from the Toronto Maple Leafs scored to even the score. 


After playing to a 2-2 stalemate in the first period, the second period belonged to the Wales Conference, as Anders Hedberg of the New York Rangers off an assist from Mario Lemieux broke the tie at 13:46. Lemieux himself scored four minutes later, as the Wales Conference held a 4-2 lead entering the final 20 minutes. Midway through the third period, Wayne Gretzky scored to make it a one-goal game, but Lemieux, with his second goal scored to make it 6-4, one minute later. 



With under three minutes left, the Campbell Conference again made it a one-goal game, thanks to a shot from Randy Carlyle of the Winnipeg Jets got past Philadelphia Flyers Goalie Pelle Lindbergh. The Campbell Conference went looking for the tying goal but never got it, as Mike Gartner from the Washington Capitals scored into the open net with nine seconds left to put a wrap on the Wales Conference 6-4 win. 


While Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins was named the MVP of the All-Star Game, Raymond Bourque of the Boston Bruins was the game’s third star with four assists, while Mike Krushelinyski of the Oilers with three assists, was the game’s second star.