The 37th All-Star Game marked the first time the event was held in Calgary. The game was held in the two-year old Olympic Saddledome, which had been built following the Flames arrival in Calgary, and in anticipation of the 1988 Winter Olympics. A sell-out crowd of 16,825 attended the game, and the gala also sold out. In total, $100,000 was raised by the Flames which was donated to charity. The traditional black-tie nature of the banquet and gala were eschewed for this game as the hosts asked attendees to dress up in western wear.
Campbell Conference and Edmonton Oilers head coach Glen Sather expressed displeasure that the fans in Calgary did not let go of the Battle of Alberta for the game. He took issue with the fans booing Edmonton's Wayne Gretzky during the player introductions and the game itself. "It's embarrassing when they boo Wayne when he touches the puck. They booed him once before when he was hurt so..." For his part, Gretzky downplayed Sather's concerns: "I've certainly got nothing against them booing me. I kind of get a kick out of it."
For the first time, the NHL named honorary captains for each team. Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Glenn Hall was named the honorary captain of the Campbell Conference, while Guy Lafleur, who had retired only three months previous, represented the Wales Conference. Lafleur returned to the game four years later, and thus became the only person to play in the NHL after serving as an honorary All-Star captain. The ceremonial faceoff was performed by Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau and used a puck that he had taken into outer space.
Mario Lemieux entered the game facing criticism from former NHL coach, and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation commentator, Don Cherry who stated that Lemieux was a "floater" in reference to Lemieux's lack of defensive play during the season. The 19-year-old rookie dismissed Cherry's arguments, stating that "the Penguins asked me to play offensively, not to care about my defensive play." Lemieux recorded two goals, including the game winner, and added an assist to earn honours as the game's most valuable player. Lemieux is the only player in All-Star Game history to win the award in his rookie year.