Fans voted John Scott the MVP of the 2016 NHL All-Star Game tonight in Nashville, and he deserved every bit of it.
This year, in order to spur interest in the event, the League allowed fans to vote for any player they wanted for the game. And, in an effort to embarrass the League and Gary Bettman, fans voted Scott to the game. Scott is a terrific teammate and team player, but by the standard criteria, he’s an All-Star in no sense. Scott is a 6’8, 270 pound enforcer who has 5 career goals in 285 games. It’s understandable because it’s his job to be a physical presence and protect his team from liberty takers. An online campaign started and Scott was eventually named the Captain of the Pacific Division’s team, much to the delight of fans and the chagrin of the League.
And, rather than lie in the bed it made for itself, the NHL made every effort possible to prevent Scott’s participation in the game. TSN reported that both Arizona and the NHL itself encouraged Scott to withdraw from the game, he refused (and who could blame him?). After that, the Coyotes traded him to Montreal, who immediate sent him down to AHL St. John’s. The League hoped that would be the end of it. But (for you Wrestling nerds like myself), similar to the case of WWE and Daniel Bryan, the fans spoke out their anger and criticism of the move. The League realized it was wrong and allowed Scott to play. It was the right choice to make.
If John Scott had been angry and vocal, first at the fans for trying to make a joke of him, then at the League for trying to screw him over, it would have been very understandable. But how did Scott act through it all? Like a gentleman, he took it in good humor with a smile and was not vulgar or rude to anyone. When All-Star weekend finally arrived, it was evident that Scott’s classy handling of the whole episode had won the fans over. He was given a standing ovation in his introduction at both the Skills Competition on Saturday and tonight’s game. His first All-Star game was a memorable one.
In the new 3 vs. 3 format, Scott scored twice and helped Team Pacific win it all, beating Ryan O’Reilly’s Team Atlantic 1-0. He even had a mock fight with Team Central’s Patrick Kane (I’m not shy about my dislike of Kane, but I gotta admit, it made me smile). Scott had a smile from ear-to-ear on his face the whole time and it was clear that he was loving every minute of it. After the game’s conclusion, Scott’s Pacific Division teammates picked him up and carried him around the ice on their shoulders amid a raucous ovation from Bridgestone Arena. It was a class act on behalf of the fans and the other All-Stars.
Scott may not be the prototypical NHL All-Star and most likely won’t be in next year’s event. But, he deserved everything he got in this year’s game. All can agree that his classy handling of a unique situation was truly admirable, and I’m incredibly happy for him. Congratulations, John Scott!