ST. LOUIS — Jordan Binnington never missed a day of school growing up in Ontario, Canada.
Even in snowstorms when there would be five or six kids in school, Binnington was always among them.
The St. Louis Blues All-Star goalie encouraged students at Long Middle School to stay focused and work hard in a visit Thursday ahead of the NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis.
During a question-and-answer period with the students, Binnington also said his favorite movie is the 1977 hockey comedy “Slap Shot.” He said his pregame ritual involves juggling and skipping to stay loose.
“Being a goalie takes a lot of focus,” Binnington said. “I just put my head down and work and work.”
When asked how the game has changed since he was a kid, Binnington said, “The sticks are a lot better and their shots are a lot harder.”
Seventh grader Dachelle Miller, 12, got a signed souvenir hockey stick from Binnington for successfully answering a trivia question.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I never met a hockey player before.”
Software company SAP, a partner of the NHL, donated $50,000 to St. Louis Public Schools at the event to fund science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, programs. The money will go toward software, laptops and online programming in the STEM fields, said Valentina Bumbu, who oversees STEM curriculum in secondary schools for the district.
Binnington discussed how he and his goalie coach use science and technology to improve his performance and study the competition.
When Binnington was in middle school, a favorite science teacher made diagrams in class to analyze the best angles for scoring goals.
“The closer you come (to the goal), the tougher it is to score,” he said.
A guide to the All-Star weekend
Visit the Stanley Cup again — or for the first time
Lord Stanley's Cup has certainly made the rounds since the Blues won the Stanley Cup Final in June. If you didn’t catch the famous trophy — or if you want to see it again — the hardware will be on display in front of a cool, hockey-themed background at the Fan Fair, Jan. 23-26. “We made this plan to come to St. Louis for the All-Star Game well before the Blues won the Stanley Cup,” says Steve Mayer, the NHL’s chief content officer. “So this is super-exciting and very, very, very unusual that the All-Star city is also the host of the Stanley Cup champion.” The NHL tries to tailor each Fan Fair to the fans and venues of the hosting city, and this is about as personal as it gets.
Download the NHL Fan Access app
If you’re going to the Fan Fair, a hall of activities inside Union Station, NHL Fan Access is a necessary download: It will be updated with last-minute changes and additions of player and alumni appearances and other special events. The app includes maps, chances to win prizes, and filters and frames for sharing your photos on social media (#NHLallstar). “The fans have really appreciated the minute-by-minute real-time updates they get with that app to understand what’s going on, not only at the Fan Fair but also at all of our events in St. Louis,” Mayer says.
Get a grip, and take a shot
The Fan Fair will give visitors plenty of chances to play hockey in all types of venues — from air and bubble hockey games inside the Dunkin’ Hockey House to a chance to shoot pucks into stacked washer-and-dryer units at the NHL Network Target Practice. An area for kids will include activities such as a ball hockey rink, and guests can test their aim at the Ticketmaster NHL Accuracy Challenge or show off their slapshot at the GEICO Speed Shot Challenge. “We always get the great smiles on anything that we put together where somebody puts a stick in their hands and shoots a puck,” Mayer says. “They’re something families can do together. They’re interactive. They love that stuff.”
Visit (or buy) a piece of hockey history
The Hockey Hall of Fame brings an exhibit to the Fan Fair that showcases the history of the Blues and professional hockey in St. Louis, along with the history of the All-Star Game. Oooh and ahh all you want, but items there aren’t for sale — visit the Fanatics booth and the official merchandise shop for that. You can take home the usual hockey memorabilia, along with items such as limited-edition, inscribed and game-used items from NHL Auctions. And you’ll be able to snag a piece of fresh history, like game-worn gear from All-Star Weekend. S. Preston Art + Designs will offer limited-edition sketch prints and hockey-themed artwork.
Cheer for Louie — or 28 other team mascots
Players from all the NHL teams come together to play in the All-Star Game, and so do their mascots: Louie from the Blues, of course, along with Bernie, Bailey, Sparky, Gritty, S.J. Sharkie — all 29 of them (two teams don't have mascots). The costumed creatures will compete in four days of relay races, musical chairs, jousting and actual ice hockey, which, as you’d imagine, gets awkward. In between competitions, the mascots will roam the Fan Fair, greeting fans and posing for photos. “There’s a lot of people in St. Louis who are fans from other cities — fans of other teams," Mayer says. "(The All-Star Game) sort of brings out a lot of different uniforms and people’s allegiances.”
The mascot roster:
Western Conference, Central Division • Tommy Hawk (Chicago Blackhawks); Bernie (Colorado Avalanche); Victor E. Green (Dallas Stars); Nordy (Minnesota Wild); Gnash (Nashville Predators); Louie (Blues); Moose (Winnipeg Jets)
Western Conference, Pacific Division • Wild Wing (Anaheim Ducks); Howler (Arizona Coyotes); Harvey the Hound (Calgary Flames); Hunter (Edmonton Oilers); Bailey (Los Angeles Kings); S.J. Sharkie (San Jose Sharks); Fin (Vancouver Canucks); Chance (Vegas Golden Knights)
Eastern Conference, Metropolitan Division • Stormy (Carolina Hurricanes); Stinger (Columbus Blue Jackets); NJ Devil (New Jersey Devils); Sparky (New York Islanders); Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers); Iceburgh (Pittsburgh Penguins); Slapshot (Washington Capitals)
Eastern Conference, Atlantic Division • Blades (Boston Bruins); Sabretooth (Buffalo Sabres); Stanley C. Panther (Florida Panthers); Youppi (Montreal Canadiens); SpartaCat (Ottawa Senators); ThunderBug (Tampa Bay Lightning); Carlton (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Visit our favorite blue lobster
While the Fan Fair will take over the midway, ballroom and other portions of Union Station, Lord Stanley will hold court from his tank on the second level of St. Louis Aquarium, which opened last month at Union Station. The owner of a Massachusetts restaurant discovered the blue lobster among a seafood shipment and gifted the rare crustacean to the aquarium in honor of the Blues’ 2019 Stanley Cup Final victory. The lobster is one in 2 million, its coloring the result of a genetic mutation. Fans selected Lord Stanley's name in an online vote, and his likeness is found on shirts and as stuffed animals at the aquarium’s gift shop.
Where St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station, 201 South 18th Street • How much $18-$25 • More info 314-923-3900; stlouisaquarium.com
Learn about the Blues at the Missouri History Museum
After the Blues won the Stanley Cup, Missouri History Museum historians worked with the team to assemble an exhibition that told the story of the underdog team and its path to "Gloria." "History Made" includes more than 20 objects on loan from the Blues and is on view through Jan. 26; on that day, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., visitors can also stop by the Black History Hockey Tour Truck. Both the museum exhibit and the truck are free.
Where Missouri History Museum, 5700 Lindell Boulevard • How much Free • More info 314-746-4599; mohistory.org/society
Learn more about black hockey history
The NHL's American Legacy Black History Hockey Tour Truck will make several local stops during All-Star Weekend. The 525-square-foot mobile museum celebrates more than 200 years of achievement in black hockey. Every black NHL player is represented on a “Wall of Pucks,” and the truck gives a look ahead to the next generation of players, officials, broadcasters and women in hockey. The truck is touring the country through March.
Sing ‘Gloria’ — or sing along with Green Day and O.A.R.
Fans already know Green Day will perform during the All-Star Game on Jan. 25. It’ll be a brief show during the second intermission, during which the band will perform “Fire, Ready, Aim,” the season's theme song for NBC Sports Wednesday Night Hockey.
Green Day also will perform a mini-concert outside, at 14th and Market streets, at the 5 p.m. pregame event Jan. 25. The rock band O.A.R. performs Jan. 24 at the NHL All-Star Skills Pregame Event, which starts at 3:30 p.m. at the same location; fans can enter the area at 2:30.
Get your blood pumping before the big game
Why not get warmed up before the All-Star Game? This downtown 5K is as Bluesy as you can get. NHL All-Star 5K participants will get a blue, All-Star Game-themed race shirt and bib, a medal for finishing, an electronic timing chip, refreshments and a chance to win Blues prizes.
When 9 a.m. Jan. 25 • Where Starts at 18th and Market streets • How much $35-$45 • More info nhl.com/blues/fans/all-star-5k
Cheer for our Blues and a St. Louis native
St. Louis is the starring, hosting city, so we’ve gotta cheer for our stars in the game: Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, forward Ryan O’Reilly and forward David Perron were chosen to play for the Central Division. Matthew Tkachuk, who grew up in Chesterfield and attended Chaminade, plays for the Calgary Flames and represents the Pacific Division.
When 7 p.m. Saturday • Where Enterprise Center, 1401 Clark Avenue • How much Sold out • More info stlblues.com
Hit the ice for yourself
Kiener Plaza serves as “celebration point east” for NHL All-Star Week, with events centered on a temporary ice rink.
From noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 26, St. Louis Blues Youth Hockey invites kids ages 4 to 9 to learn basic hockey skills such as passing, stick-handling and shooting, and they will get a chance to play some pond hockey. The experience is free, but registration is required at nhl.com/blues/community/winterfest-hockey.
Players will compete in Winterfest 3-on-3 Hockey Classic games throughout the week, with a championship this Saturday. Games are played from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
From Jan. 22-26, the rink will be open daily for public skating. Admission is free, and skate rental is $12 adults and $7 for ages 3-15. The rink is open 4-8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 1 to 8 p.m. Friday, 3 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday. Kids can rent skates for free on Friday, courtesy of the Blues.
There will be a Blues All-Star Watch Party from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday with puck-drop fireworks, face painters, food and drinks and more.
Where Kiener Plaza • How much $7-$12 • More info archpark.org/events/winterfest
This portion of the story was update Jan. 23 with new information and times.
Were you there? Looking back at past All-Star Games
The only other NHL All-Star Games in St. Louis were in 1970 and 1988 at the St. Louis Arena, which was demolished in 1999. In 1970, seven Blues players played in the All-Star game, including Jacques Plante, Barclay Plager and Red Berenson. An All-Star Game dinner was held the night before the game at the Khorassan Room at the Chase Park Plaza; that year, for the first time, the $25 tickets were available to the public.
The 1988 game was dedicated to Plager, who had become a coach but died at age 46 of a brain tumor, three days before the game.
The Arena got a bit of a makeover before the All-Star Game, with yellow paint on outside handrails and updates to the bathrooms and press box. “It looks good for a 58-year-old facility,” a general manager told the Post-Dispatch at the time. “The comments we hear is that it looks clean and it smells clean.”
Enterprise Center, the Blues' home arena since 1994, thankfully has raised that bar. (The venue previously has been named Scottrade Center, Savvis Center and Kiel Center.)
NHL All-Star Weekend schedule
2-4 p.m. • Black History Hockey Tour Truck (Matthews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club, 4245 North Kingshighway)
3-10 p.m. • NHL Fan Fair (Union Station)
5 p.m. • Mascot Showdown (All-Star Rink, Fan Fair at Union Station)
7 p.m. • NHL Alumni Game (Centene Community Ice Center, 750 Casino Center Drive, Maryland Heights)
7 p.m. • Mascot Showdown (All-Star Rink, Union Station)
10 a.m. • NHL Mini 1 v. 1 Shootout (Centene Community Ice Center)
11:30 a.m. • NHL Learn-to-Play Skills Jamboree (Winterfest Rink at Kiener Plaza)
2-6 p.m. • Black Hockey History Tour Truck (Boys and Girls Club Teen Center for Excellence, 9200 West Florissant Avenue, Ferguson)
3-10 p.m. • NHL Fan Fair (Union Station)
3:30 p.m. • NHL All-Star Skills Pregame Event and O.A.R. concert (14th and Market streets)
7 p.m. • All-Star Skills Competition and Mascot Showdown (Enterprise Center; broadcast on NBC Sports Network)
9 a.m. • NHL All-Star 5K (starts at 18th and Market streets)
10 a.m.-7 p.m. • NHL Fan Fair (Union Station)
Noon • NHL Learn-to-Play Skills Jamboree (Winterfest Rink at Kiener Plaza)
Noon and 2 p.m. • Mascot Showdown (All-Star Rink, Fan Fair at Union Station)
Noon-9:30 p.m. • Black Hockey History Tour Truck (Kiener Plaza)
5 p.m. • NHL All-Star Pregame Event with Green Day concert (14th and Market streets)
5:30 p.m. • Mascot Showdown before the All-Star Game (Enterprise Center)
7 p.m. • All-Star Game (Enterprise Center; broadcast on NBC Sports Network)
10 a.m.-4 p.m. • NHL Fan Fair (Union Station)
10 a.m.-5 p.m. • Black History Hockey Tour Truck (Missouri History Museum, 5700 Lindell Boulevard, Forest Park)
Noon • Try Hockey for Free (Winterfest Rink at Kiener Plaza)
Noon and 2 p.m. • Mascot Showdown (All-Star Rink, Fan Fair at Union Station)
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