Trevor Block – Indy Writer
If you have not been paying attention to the NHL so far this season, you’ve missed perhaps the least impactful, yet most talked about fiasco of the year. Then again, that’s how professional sports always seem to go.
The NHL All-Star Game is set to take place this weekend (January 30-31). Just as in years past, the players, the writers and most likely the coaches view the game as a gimmick, something purely for the fans. This is precisely why the All-Star Game will take on a brand new format. This year’s game will feature a 3-on-3 format with 4 different teams, one for each division, two per conference. The criticism the game faces is all based on the fact that it exists for the fans and for the fans only. Hell, some players even request not to play (looking at you Crosby). So, in an effort to connect with the fans, the higher ups at the NHL decided to allow the fans to vote for the All-Star Game captains (4).
This is where it gets fun.
10 years ago, this fan vote idea might have been a great one. However, people, namely NHL fans, have complete access to the Internet at all times. This makes it easy to, oh I don’t know, organize a movement to vote in an undeserving player to the All-Star Game. Thanks to Reddit and the community of r/hockey, John Scott (who?) will be joining the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane and Jamoir Jagr as captains of their respected division.
John Scott, you might be asking yourself, is a 6’8”, 260 pound, 33-year-old winger that has prided his career on his fighting ability. Yes, Scott has come to be known as a career long “goon” that moves from team to team. Scott has played for Minnesota, Chicago, Buffalo, San Jose, Arizona and the New York Islanders. He has five career goals, six career assists and nearly 600 career penalty minutes.
So why is he a captain on an All-Star team? What started as a joke blossomed into something I’m sure the engineers behind all of this never considered. Additionally, the NHL executives surely never thought something like this would happen, which is why they asked Scott not to participate in the festivities, even though he was voted in as captain. Scott refused to comply.
So that’s it? The fans win and Scott plays? Not if the NHL has anything to say about it. As a result of Scott’s refusal to comply with the NHL’s wishes, the Arizona Coyotes (Scott’s current team) traded Scott to the Montreal Canadiens who eventually demoted him to their AHL affiliate. Scott moved from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference in the trade, seemingly demolishing anyone’s hopes of seeing him on the ice in Nashville.
Many began to believe that this trade was orchestrated by disgruntled NHL executives in effort to free up a spot for a more deserving player in the Pacific division. Ultimately, their suspected efforts failed, most likely as a result of threatening legal action from somebody’s camp. The league eventually gave up the battle after releasing that they made the “determination to maintain the status quo for the All-Star weekend in order to preserve all parties’ pre-existing expectations, including Scott’s desire to participate.”
Hooray for Scott!
“I am looking forward to enjoying a fun and unique experience at All-Star Weekend in Nashville with my family,” Scott said in a statement released by the league. “While being voted to the All-Star Game by the fans was not something I expected to happen, I am excited to participate in the All-Star events with my fellow players.”
So John Scott and the fans prevail over the almighty front office of the NHL. The game exists for the fans and the fans want to see Scott. Perhaps it is a testament to the role of the goon. Perhaps it’s a message to the NHL that the fans matter most. Or maybe fans have accepted the silliness of the event and decided to make their mark. Whatever the reason, fans will get their wish and see John Scott in an All-Star uniform, captaining the Pacific division…..to victory?