By Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor
All-star games are some of the wackiest sporting events in the world. The NHL All-Star Game is no exception. With the ridiculously high number of goals and unorthodox game play style, fans get a nice break from the serious facet of hockey.
The NHL has decided to up the crazy factor for the 2016 All-Star Game, which will take place in Nashville, Tenn. on Jan. 31. The league will introduce the 3-on-3 format for the first time in the game’s history, while keeping the fan-influenced rosters for a second-straight year.
The fan vote is an awesome way to give the league’s faithful more influence on the game. Last year, Latvian forward Zemgus Girgensons tallied the most votes after a group of his countrymen spammed the polls. This wasn’t a problem because Girgensons was, and still is, a decent player. It was just funny to see a guy like him earn more votes over superstars like Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos.
This year, however, the promotion took a turn for the worst.
John Scott – a 6-foot-8, 33-year-old goon known for his willingness to drop the gloves rather than his scoring abilities – received the most votes on this year’s All-Star ballot, thus earning him the title of Pacific Division captain.
This is the same John Scott who, after scoring his fifth goal in his nine-year career, attacked a member of the Washington Capitals for no apparent reason.
This is the same John Scott who sucker punched Anaheim’s Tim Jackman, which warranted a four-game suspension – one of many suspensions over the last few years.
So, honestly, who wouldn’t want to see a 259-pound slug keep up with the games’ most skilled players? Even Scott, who originally pleaded with fans to stop voting for him, eased up to the idea.
The NHL commented on the matter back in December when deputy commissioner Bill Daley stated, “As long as voting is legitimate, we will honor the results.” For the time being, the enforcer was on his way to Nashville for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game.
But it was just last Friday that Scott, then a member of the Arizona Coyotes, was packaged in a three-team deal that sent him to the Montreal Canadiens. When he arrived in Quebec, Scott was immediately reassigned to Montreal’s farm team, the St. John’s Ice Caps. This forced the journeyman to vacate his position in the annual exhibition.
Most people understand professional hockey is a business just like how football, baseball and basketball are; however, the fact that the NHL tried to bury Scott in the minors so he couldn’t taint their precious exhibition is awful on the league’s part. This “muscle flexing” by the NHL was unwarranted and callous.
However, the disgruntled fans weren’t through with the league’s “final” decision. They took their rage to social media and inspired hash tags such as #FREEJOHNSCOTT to let the NHL know how they really felt.
Tuesday morning, fans got their wish. The league’s public relations department wrote in a release that Scott would participate in the All-Star game despite still having to play for the Ice Caps in the American Hockey League.
The NHL lost a great deal of trust and respect these past couple of months for this fiasco. Sure, Scott has one of the least refined resumes of professional hockey, but he earned this spot fair and square. If the league needs to learn that not keeping your word can lead to consequences.