Trevor Block – Indy Writer
Great players are remembered for their stats. Legends are remembered for how they affected the game. Not all legends are great players.
Is John Scott a great hockey player? Good enough to play over ten years in the NHL. Will he be remembered for his stats? Unlikely.
Rather, Scott will be remembered for standing his ground in the face of an oppressive NHL, for showing the world that hockey is more than just a bunch of thugs.
The story of John Scott started as a joke. The NHL allowed fans to vote for the four All-Star Captains and fans took advantage of it. What began as a joke turned into something its originators never imagined.
Scott’s 5 career goals and frequent healthy scratches didn’t exactly warrant an all-star nod. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman knew this, which is why he asked John to decline. It is also why Bettman played part in orchestrating a trade in attempt to keep Scott out of the All-Star Game. John Scott gave fans the pleasure of hearing the story straight form the source
The futile attempts to correct a clumsy mistake only made Bettman and the NHL look more foolish. Their plan backfired and they scrambled to correct it. Thankfully for fans, John Scott doesn’t back down from a fight.
And so Scott played in the first ever 3-on-3 All-Star Game. Scott captained the Pacific division, though his jersey was void of any Pacific team’s representation. What’s more is Scott scored 2 goals alongside his former teammates and longtime friends Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns.
His team would go on to win the tournament. Scott finished with two goals, a center ice “how-do-you-do” on Patrick Kane and an All-Star Game MVP.
“Who? Me?” mouthed Scott when his name was called.
Scott’s weekend was defined by a resounding cheer. He played for himself and for the fans. He exercised the most fundamental teaching of sports; have fun. Most importantly, Scott bridged the gap between the old and the new.
His story is situated during a time that has been examining the long term effects of contact sports. Head trauma as a result of fighting has been a hot topic around the league, which finds itself increasingly surrounded by stories of former enforcers dealing with health issues related to their career. Hockey has always stood apart from other sports because of its tolerance of fighting. Hockey teams have historically had a place on their roster for players willing to drop the gloves in the name of their team. Whether it’s to make their teammates more comfortable out on the ice or to get the team going, fighting has been tolerated, even encouraged.
Not many people within the hockey community have had a problem with an old fashioned square off between two willing participants. That is, of course, until it became known that the type of head trauma that comes from puttin’ the dukes up can have future health implications. Enforcers have been criticized and have become a rarity as a result of this new information
The game is changing. New discoveries are making the game safer and more skill based. Enforcers, “goons,” are nearly extinct. Scott remains as a testament to the progression of the game, but also as a reminder that there is a place in the NHL for dedication and love for the sport.
Scott’s story is a win for the fans (I’m sure Scott would chalk the $90k in prize money up as a win too). The fans voted and he played. His lack of a Pacific division representation is perhaps most telling.
John Scott wasn’t playing for a team. He was playing for himself, for his family and for the fans.