Jon Hamm Hosts NHL 100 Gala Honoring Hockey Greats for All-Star Weekend
"I’ve been going to games since I was probably six or seven years old. I remember when you could smoke in the arena," the host said.
Hockey legends came together Friday at the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live to honor the NHL 100, a celebration of the greatest players in league history. From Wayne Gretzky to Mario Lemieux to Sidney Crosby, dozens of NHL stars were on hand for the honor and created what was likely the greatest collection of hockey talent ever assembled under one roof.
Jon Hamm, a longtime St. Louis Blues fan, served as host for the evening and spoke about one particular player he admired most.
“I do appreciate what Mario Lemieux has done," said the actor. "In staying not only on one team his entire career, but battling back from cancer and coming back and playing at such a high level and leading that team. I love all of the things that guy’s done.”
NHL stars were honored from each decade since the 1970s, with each era's group being introduced by a different Hollywood star, such as Keanu Reeves, Michael J. Fox and Alyssa Milano.
Reeves particularly enjoyed the evening, becoming animated when mentioning the New York Rangers' 1994 championship and enjoying his off-camera time with the legends so much that he had to be led away so that he would clear the stage before the commercial break ended.
Reeves wasn't the only gushing about his love for the frozen sport, however. Hamm spoke about his history with the NHL, saying, "I’ve been going to games since I was probably six or seven years old. I remember going to the games when you could smoke in the arena, and my dad was a smoker ... that was weird, a really strange situation. I went to the Winter Classic earlier this month and it was fantastic. I have a lot of great memories of watching hockey."
John Legend also energized the crowd by performing two songs, including his latest hit, “Love Me Now.”
One of Hamm's best lines of the night as host was when he took a shot at a legend from a different sport, saying, “[New England Patriots' quarterback] Tom Brady is terrific, but good luck deflating a hockey puck.”
The night ended with a special tribute to actor and legendary hockey fan Alan Thicke, a friend to many of the players who died last month after suffering a heart attack while playing the sport with his son.
Honoree Gretzky, widely regarded as the greatest hockey player of all time, summed up the evening best when discussing why he loved hockey: “It’s the greatest game in the world, played by the nicest people.”
The event kicked off the NHL’s All-Star Weekend, which will include a skills competition on Saturday and culminates with Sunday’s All-Star Game at Staples Center.