There’s No Right Answer in the John Scott Debate
On paper, All-Star Games seem like awesome ideas. The best athletes in the respective league get together and go at it for a few hours. You're bound to see some awesome plays from awesome players, and fan voting ensures that people will see their favorite players.
In reality though, All-Star Games are often the most dreaded days on the sports calendar. For one thing, the games are mere exhibitions, and little to no defense is played. Players themselves seem to realize the pointlessness of the whole ordeal, many opting to just take the 3-5 day vacation by claiming injury. This leads to guys who have no business being in a game of superstars playing alongside said superstars. Not that it matters, because zero defense is played in these games, but it's not right to see Derek Anderson lining up alongside Randy Moss and Tony Gonzalez, a situation that came to pass in the 2008 Pro Bowl...an event that, oh by the way, the NFL is doing their damnedest to get rid of.
That leads us to the quandary that is John Scott, who has played for more teams than he has scored goal in his career. Scott is part of an endangered species in the National Hockey League, the enforcer whose sole purpose is to go out and agitate the other team, brawl it up when the team needs a kick in the pants. As the league as cracked down on fighting, Scott has held strong, going on his 7th year in the league. Over that time, Scott has tallied just 5 goals and 6 assists for a total of 11 points. Scott has also racked up 542 penalty minutes in that span, and has gained a reputation around the league as a not so friendly player, evidenced by this cheap shot on Boston's Loui Ericksson when Scott was a brawler in Buffalo.
In an almost hipster move, the NHL has been tinkering with its All-Star game for awhile now. They've tried concepts like "North American vs The World" and a fantasy draft like process. Their latest attempt to get people to watch plays off their new 3-on-3 overtime format, with the concept being expanded to a full game...or full games, as the league is planning to do a four team tournament based on rosters created by division.
Somehow someway, Scott, until very recently a member of the Arizona Coyotes of the Pacific Division, soon became the target of a campaign to get him into the All-Star Game, where no doubt he would've been out of his league in a 3-on-3 setting against superstars like Alex Ovechkin and Jamie Benn. The campaign, however, was somehow successful, and Scott was named a captain of the Pacific Division team via the fan vote.
For his part, Scott never truly endorsed the campaign, though as it slowly gained steam via hockey blogs and social media, he slowly began to reluctantly embrace it. Unlike Scott, though, there was another party in a total no-win situation...the league. If they embraced the concept, it would be admitting defeat, an admission that fan voting doesn't work in an event created for fans.
If some conspiracy theorists are to be believed, the league chose a nuclear option from which there's no turning back.
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie (the NHL's Adam Schefter in layman's terms), Scott had been asked by both the league and his team to forego his position in the All-Star Game, a concession Scott was unwilling to attend to. In what some see as a far too convenient twist, Scott was dealt off to the Montreal Canadiens, who are not only not in the Pacific Division, they're in another conference entirely. This likely neutralizes the "threat" of Scott playing in the All-Star game, though the cost becomes personal. Scott not only must move his family, which includes a pregnant wife, to yet another new city, but he probably misses out on an All-Star bonus.
Stupid All-Stars thanks to fan voting is nothing new. The NBA has dealt with seeing past their prime superstars (like Kobe Bryant this season) work their way into the game via fan voting. Heck, the NHL dealt with a similar thing like this last year, as Latvian hockey fans stuffed the ballot box to get Buffalo Sabres C Zemgus Girgensons, he of a career high 30 points last season, into the exhibition last year in Columbus. So why is Scott any different? Why was there no league smear campaign against Girgensons? Simply put, the NHL had a chance to embrace a "cool" concept...but ruined that completely. Had the league embraced this silly thing, it could've actually looked fun and sympathetic for a change. Sure, it makes fan voting look like a travesty, but we know that already. Instead, through possible backdoor dealings and flat out begging Scott to skip the game, and now he has to uproot his career again.
The NHL is well known for taking cool concepts and running them into the ground. Look at the Winter Classic, which the league completely diluted with the addition of multiple outdoor games. All-Star Games are already a bit of a silly concept in reality. The NHL's silly stand might be the eventual death blow for them entirely.
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