Though the All-Star Game usually comes and goes without much praise, there might be reason to pay attention to which player takes home honors as the game’s most valuable player. Using statistical data from the last 20 mid-season exhibitions that had a forward or defenseman win the MVP award, you can break down what a player’s performance is like before and after the All-Star Game. For the game’s MVP, it could mean the best is yet to come.
The reason the data used was only from 20 All-Star Games is due to the fact that game-by-game statistics are only readily available dating back to 1988. The data also excludes the 1994 contest, the All-Star game in which New York Rangers netminder
Mike Richter won the MVP award. There are two specific trends that pop up: the first is the good news for the game’s potential MVPs, and the second seems to be more indicative of the era in which the games occurred. In the last six of the last seven contests, which took place from 2003 to 2012, the All-Star Game MVP has gone back to their club and started lighting the lamp at an increased rate. In some cases, like 2007 when
Daniel Briere had 1.16 points per game before the All-Star Break and 1.18 after, the boost wasn’t that significant, but in the last four contests the increase in points per game has been pretty large. At the last All-Star Game in Ottawa during the 2011-12 season,
Marian Gaborik’s hat trick and four points earned him the nod as the MVP of the outing. Before the break, Gaborik was a pretty incredible season, scoring .83 points per game. But after taking home the MVP, his play shot through the roof, as he scored better than a point per game the rest of the way. He’s not the only one, either.
Patrick Sharp’s goal and three points at 2010-11’s festivities were enough to earn him the award, and he went from scoring just under a point per game before the All-Star weekend to scoring eight goals and 25 points over the 25 games that followed. Sharp’s bump, however minor, was still an increase. Like Briere, Gaborik, and Sharp, each of
Alex Kovalev (2009 MVP),
Eric Staal (2008),
Dany Heatley (2003), and
Bill Guerin (2001) have seen their point totals receive a bump following the game. Matter of fact, Guerin’s is the most significant of any player to win the award since 1988. Before the All-Star Game, Guerin, who had been traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Boston Bruins earlier in the season, had scored 27 goals and 48 points in 56 games, good for .86 points per game. Following the break, Guerin took off, potting another 13 goals and 37 points in just 29 games, 1.27 points per game. The chart below shows the points per game before and after the All-Star Game for each player since 1988 who has won the award. Aside from
Joe Sakic, who went from 1.08 points per game to 1.07, you’ll notice that six of the last seven and seven of the last nine All-Star MVPs have gone back to their teams with a bit more jump in their step.
The other thing that becomes very evident when looking at the data this way, aside from the fact that
Wayne Gretzky and
Mario Lemieux were not messing around in the ‘80s, is that there was a stretch of time from the 1992 to 1997 when four consecutive MVP winners saw their points per game slip. Again, excluding Richter’s win in 1994, MVP’s
Brett Hull, Mike Gartner,
Ray Bourque, and
Mark Recchi all had their points per game fall. Gartner, who won the award in 1993, scored almost half a point less per game. That’s a pretty steep decline in scoring pace. However, it was an incredibly high-scoring era and Gartner’s .52 points per game pace post-break is a far cry from the slips Hull, Bourque, and Recchi faced. Hull “slid” from 1.61 points per game to 1.3, while Bourque and Recchi were just above point per game players that fell to between .80-.90 point per game following the break. While not insignificant, surely teams wouldn’t mind a player that could score in almost 90 percent of their outings. All this is to say that it might be worth cheering a little bit harder for your favorite team’s All-Star entry, because with some good fortune and a few points on the board, it could mean the MVP award. And recent history has shown the MVP is going to bring home more than just some hardware and a new car – he may also have a bit of an added scoring touch.