John Scott is the feel-good story of NHL All-Star Weekend
By now, you’re probably well versed on the John Scott saga.
A fringe NHL player, he has played 285 regular season games over the last 8 seasons with Minnesota, Chicago, New York, Buffalo, San Jose, and Arizona. He has 5 career goals and 11 career points.
He has carved out an NHL career because he’s 6’8″, 260 pounds, and he can fight.
So that’s why a group of fans thought it would be funny to vote for him for this year’s All-Star Game. The campaign got momentum, and wouldn’t you know it, he was voted into the game as the top vote getter in the Pacific Division.
Hilarious, right? Not so fast.
That’s when this story got controversial. Behind the scenes, Scott was pressured by the league to decline the invitation.
Scott told his story to the Player’s Tribune, which came out yesterday, and it’s a must-read.
Someone from the NHL called him and asked: “do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?”
The Coyotes eventually traded Scott to the Montreal Canadiens, who subsequently sent him to the minors, under a cloud of suspicion. The move would not allow Scott to participate in the All-Star Game, because he is no longer an NHL player.
Talk about an overreaction.
It’s impossible to read Scott’s story and not be touched by it. He was a big guy who never meant to be a goon. The goon life chose him. He seems like a bright guy and a family man.
The NHL created this problem and shouldn’t have been surprised by it. Ridiculous fan voting is not a new phenomenon.
Journeyman Canucks defenceman Rory Fitzpatrick narrowly missed making the 2007 All-Star Game, after the “Vote 4 Rory” campaign caught on like wildfire.
Fitzpatrick eventually fell just short in votes, although there is evidence to suggest the NHL may have “cooked the books”.
I believe the evidence suggests the NHL cooked the books. Since the league counted only ballots that were entirely filled in, there should have been an equal number of votes cast for hockey’s two conferences. But for the week after Christmas, players in the Eastern Conference received 6 percent more votes than those in Fitzpatrick’s Western Conference. Among defensemen, the results were even more skewed: The guys in the West—Rory among them—got 16 percent fewer votes overall. (These discrepancies were about three times bigger than any that had come before.) As bloggers were quick to point out, the numbers were exactly what you’d expect to see if the league had manually dumped 100,000 Rory votes. Nothing has been proved, but I’m hard-pressed to come up with another reasonable explanation.
That caught everyone off-guard. That was a warning to the NHL, but they let it happen again.
Not only was Scott going to be robbed of the opportunity of going to the game, he was going to have to uproot his family. He has two young daughters and his wife is pregnant with twins.
The NHL eventually flip-flopped, caving to bad publicity, allowing Scott to participate. He’ll wear a generic NHL jersey, rather than a Coyotes or Canadiens one.
OK now he's official. (Please note there is no Coyotes patch on the John Scott #NHLAllStar sweater) pic.twitter.com/67sgplTf7u
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) January 28, 2016
What a joke. Except, nobody’s laughing anymore.
A funny thing has happened through this nightmare over a stupid All-Star Game. John Scott is the feel-good story of the weekend. His media scrum today was larger than anyone’s. His All-Star t-shirt sold out already!
Want a John Scott All-Star Game shirt? You're out of luck, the NHL is sold out of them! https://t.co/F7QDQF0Hxy pic.twitter.com/TrWQAkGSeo
— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) January 28, 2016
His teammates are loving it. The fans are loving it. John Scott is loving it. And the NHL will love it when they see a spike in viewers because of the publicity this story has generated.
John Scott didn’t belong at the All-Star Game, until he did. Now he’s the main attraction.
Scott will participate in the Skills Competition tomorrow, in the hardest shot competition. He’ll also get a chance in the shootout.
But what everyone is really looking forward to is the game(s) on Sunday, a 3-on-3 tournament with his Pacific Division teammates.
Scott will be the slowest and worst player on the ice by a mile. But that’s ok. I can’t wait.
Neither can he.