TORONTO — Elias Lindholm was on his way back to Calgary from a trip to Mexico when he learned he had been traded to NHL-leading Vancouver.
When he arrived at All-Star Weekend on Thursday, a new Canucks jersey with his name and No. 23 on the back was waiting for him. It was a welcome sight for the pending free agent, who expected a move for quite some time.
“I was prepared for anything,” Lindholm said. “Didn’t know when or what team and didn’t expect to be traded in the air back from Mexico, but I’m super excited to join this team and pumped to get going.”
It’s the second consecutive year Vancouver made a major trade on All-Star eve. The team sent Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders just before the event last season.
This time, the Canucks aren’t sellers. They’re atop the league and buying – sending winger Andrei Kuzmenko, prospects Hunter Brzustewicz and Joni Jurmo, a 2024 first-round draft pick and a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick to Calgary for Lindholm.
“I’m just excited we got this guy,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “He’s just going to fill a huge need for us in the sense that he’s a jack of all trades and he’s a great penalty-killer, too, and he can play power play.”
Tocchet said he texted Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk, who played alongside Lindholm on the Flames for five seasons, to get his opinion.
“He said, ‘I love him,’” Tocchet said. “When Matthew Tkachuk says he loves a guy, you know he’s a good player.”
An All-Star for a 10th time, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was noticeably absent from the first night. Because he’s not one of the 12 players taking part in the skills competition Friday, he was allowed to be a late arrival.
Video surfaced on social media of Crosby skating in Montana.
NHL All-Star Weekend is back in Toronto, the site of the inaugural All-Star Game in 1947. The 3-on-3 tournament Saturday will look much different than 77 years ago – an intense, physical affair that featured 12 minor penalties, two fighting majors and a 4-3 score line as the NHL All-Stars edged the Stanley Cup champion Maple Leafs.
“The players hated each other back then,” hockey historian, author and researcher Paul Patskou said. “They never got together. They wanted to win, both the All-Stars and the Stanley Cup team. There was bodychecking (and) it was really tough.”
Like several unofficial All-Star games in the years before it, the 1947 contest was a fundraiser. The newly formed players’ pension fund was a beneficiary.
The Maple Leafs hosted the game after winning the Cup the previous spring. Top players from the five other Original Six teams provided the opposition.
“You had players playing for the first time together and they were rivals,” Patskou said. “Back then, there was a genuine hate on.”