[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This was written for The Broad Street Bully, a blog and podcast my friend Drew and I started based off of our mutual interest in the Philadelphia Flyers. See it on http://broadstreetbully.net.]
The legend of John Scott has been steadily growing. Below is a quick and dirty run down of the saga of John Scott and how he went from oft suspended enforcer, to NHL All Star team captain, to AHLer all in the span of a couple weeks. Is there an NHL conspiracy? Let’s review after the jump and then you draw your own conclusions.
For your knowledge: John Scott’s career stats include 285 games played, five goals, six assists, eleven total points, a career minus 18, and 542 penalty minutes.
And now, for the the John Scott timeline.
The NHL opened up fan voting for the All-Star game team captains. The NHL didn’t provide people a list of players to pick from. So, obviously, because the Internet isn’t allowed to have anything nice, they decided to put a social media push on getting John Scott selected as the team captain for the Pacific Division team. At this time, Scott had dressed for six games the entire season.
Scott is quoted as saying:
“I don’t know what’s going on … I just kind of stay out of it. Everyone gives me updates. The guys are giving me a hard time about it, but it’s kind of neat. The fans, they obviously like me for some reason. I think it’s more of a joke than anything, but I’ll take it.”
It was widely accepted that if the voting ended with Scott at the top of the list, he would politely decline his invitation. He knew that he didn’t deserve it but was just having fun with the whole situation.
The NHL, almost forced to comment at this point, came out with:
NHL’s Bill Daly to Bleacher Report on John Scott/ASG :”If you have a fan polling system, and voting is legitimate, you honor the results.”
— Adrian Dater (@adater) December 2, 2015
This is what happens when voting is open to all, for all, and some decide that it would be really funny to vote in a player who obviously isn’t an All-Star.
To his eternal credit, Scott has had a sense of humour about this, but it says something about fans’ perception of the All-Star game when this is how they vote.
While also showing that John Scott didn’t appear to be taking this process seriously:
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) December 4, 2015
Ken Campbell, from The Hockey News, thinks it’s time to take voting away from the general public.
This is an utter debacle for the league, one that is not really the NHL’s fault. Every major sports league in North America has a provision that allows the paying public to vote for starters in their respective all-star games. Done properly, it’s a way of engaging fans in the process and a fun way of giving them an opportunity to feel a part of the spectacle. And for the most part, it works. With the exception of baseball, all-star games are the biggest who cares of the season and have no lasting impact or any tangible effect on the league’s operations. They are essentially a showcase for sponsors and an opportunity to break up the season with a little fun. No harm, no foul.
Campbell goes on to say that Honda is sponsoring the All Star weekend, but there is no specific ballot sponsor. So doing away with fan voting won’t cause a loss in NHL revenue due to sponsors being dropped.
Or the league could simply say to its fans, “Look, you’ve proved time and again that this is a process you refuse to take seriously, so after much reflection, the NHL has decided to take you out of the process.” Nobody could really blame the suits if that’s the course they took.
The NHL can certainly, and probably will certainly, do this next year. In fact, after what the Internet did, it seems like the only expected outcome.
“It’s one of those things where I don’t want to be a joke, I don’t want to be an embarrassment, I don’t want to kind of embarrass the game in that way,” Scott said before the Coyotes faced the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
“But I talked to some people, I talked to a lot of former players and everyone said have fun with it, just go with it and it’ll be a good experience”.
“At first it was one of those things that I thought was a joke, but now it happened so I’ve kind of got to go with it, have some fun with it and try to do the best I can,” Scott said.
Scott realizes he’s not an All Star but the fans voted him in and the NHL has said they were going to honor the fan votes. So, Scott decided he was going to have some fun with it.
The NHL has had to deal with things like this before, with fans using the online voting process to take an otherwise obscure player and try to vote him into the All-Star game.
It has always failed. Until now. Perhaps it was a down year for voting and opened the door for this sort of thing to happen, or maybe hockey fans were just more coordinated and committed to the joke. Whatever the reason. It happened.
Throughout the voting, the article mentions that the NHL made sure not to mention anything about Scott being (most likely) the leading vote getter the entire time voting was open.
John Scott did not ask for this. He urged fans to not vote for him and give their votes to his more deserving teammates. But they didn’t. They continued to vote for him, and he has every right in the world to show up to the All-Star weekend in Nashville and enjoy that moment. He doesn’t owe anybody anything else.
And the idea that the All-Star game has any kind of integrity is outrageous. It is a game for players to mess around, have a fun weekend away from the daily grind of an 82-game regular season and potentially two-month long playoff run, and try things they would never, ever, ever, try in a game because they would get destroyed for it, both on the ice and in the media.
This article wraps up by saying the NHL All Star game is becoming a relic and that John Scott getting all this attention may make some more people pay attention to it. Which is a good thing for both the game itself and the NHL. More interest in the game drums up more people watching. Television numbers almost always relate to revenue. The NHL could’ve potentially benefitted from an Internet hijacking of their all star voting polls.
I included this as part of the timeline because it includes the notable omissions from the Pacific Division team. Of the four players the article mentioned, both Sedin twins were included. They both are getting older but they are a big part of Vancouver’s lineup and probably could have argued for a spot. They also mention the omission of Mark Giordano from the Flames. As the team captain and one of their top defenseman, Giordano could make a good argument for inclusion. Finally, Scott’s former Coyotes’ teammate, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, was also left off. And this was probably because Scott was already there as a representative for the Coyotes.
John Scott comments on making the All Star team as a well known enforcer:
“I hope everyone who has done my job can take a little bit out of this and say, ‘You know what? Finally, one of us is getting recognized,'” Scott said. “If not for just fighting all the time, we do bring a lot to the team in terms of doing a lot things that go unseen. It’s nice to get a bit of props once in a while for that. So yeah, I think that would be fair to say.”
The article goes on to mention how Scott’s thoughts about going to the All Star progressed as the ground swell of social media support kept him at the top of the polls:
“It’s funny, every day you get a different opinion from somebody else. You talk to your management, your coaches, your teammates,” Scott said. “At first, it was kind of like a joke and I wasn’t really a fan of it. I was like, ‘Let’s end this quick and move on.’ And once it started to gain speed and gain momentum behind it, I started to talk to more people and realized, ‘This is probably going to happen.’ So I had to start to change my tune from, ‘I don’t want to do this, I don’t like this’ to ‘If it happens, I’ll be happy and we’ll have some fun with it.’
“At first, it was super negative, I didn’t want it to happen, but now it’s here and we’ll have a good time with it.”
“Especially for a guy like me, I mean, I thought I was done after last year,” said Scott, who appeared in 38 games (3 goals, 1 assist, 87 minutes in penalties) with the San Jose Sharks before signing with the Coyotes in the summer. “You just never now when you’re going to get the next opportunity. So I’m looking at this as maybe being my last year in the NHL and this is a huge deal for someone like me.
“I would never in a million years dream of going to an All-Star Game. That’s crazy. So I figured, ‘Why not? Just do it.'”
John Scott didn’t ask to get voted into the All Star game. But he was. And he went from politely declining to getting legitimately excited to show up and play in the exhibition game.
The biggest issue with All Star fan voting was that John Scott ended up as a team captain.
Such is the peril of unfettered fan voting, and when the idea of sending someone obviously not deserving catches on, well, it makes a mockery of a game that hardly needs any more degradation.
At the same time, let’s not pretend that this is some grave matter. As noted above, the best player of this generation has played in one All-Star game in his first 11 seasons, so it’s not as though the game is a real measure of a player’s worth.
The article also reminds us of this fact:
And, while we’re dialing back the outrage, remember that Scott didn’t ask to be voted in, and has handled the situation with good humour. So, let him have fun at what amounts to a weekend at fantasy camp.
The NHL All Star game has been stagnant. The league never put out a total number of votes but the NHL presumably changed the format this year to drum up interest in a game that’s losing it’s appeal in an era where highlights of every team are easily accessible and there’s no excitement in seeing all these players in one meaningless game.
But, because Scott was elected as a team captain, it’s already led the NHL into a back peddle:
The relative ease with which Scott, who has appeared in just 11 games this season and has one assist, was elected to the All-Star Game, is likely what forced the NHL to take a look at how they handled the All-Star Game fan vote. According to Elliotte Friedman during Hockey Night in Canada‘s “Headlines” segment, the league will indeed make changes to the voting process for next year. What they’ll do is not yet finalized, though.
Friedman noted that the league could decide to give the fans only a portion of the vote to select All-Star Game captains, or they could choose to provide a more limited list of players to choose from.
The possibility of taking away a portion of the voting power from the fans is hardly ideal. Otherwise why have it at all? The option of limiting the pool of who can be voted in could be more effective without taking the power away from the fans to make the choices on their own. Still, they’d have to figure out how that group would be selected.
Scott was sent down to the AHL to make room on the Coyotes’ roster for recent waiver claim, Kevin Connauton. It was the third time he was waived this season.
However, Dave Tippet reassured the masses this wouldn’t affect his play in the All Star game:
Arizona coach Dave Tippett said Scott will likely be back with the Coyotes in the next couple of days, allowing him to participate in the Jan. 31 All-Star game in Nashville.
John Scott and Victor Bartley were traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Jarred Tinordi and Stefan Fournier. Scott and Bartley were immediately assigned to the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie included these two tweets in the article:
John Scott was previously asked by both NHL and Arizona Coyotes to bow out of NHL All-Star Game. He refused. Trade likely takes care of that
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 15, 2016
At this point, even if Scott isn’t deemed ineligible by NHL, he would almost certainly bow out of ASG on his own.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 15, 2016
The only benefit to Montreal on the surface is that they clear Jarred Tinordi’s salary cap hit of $850,000.
It’s hard to paraphrase the John Scott part of this article because it is pretty succinctly written. It’s a lengthy quote but worth the read.
So let’s leave that aside and give the commissioner his next project. I would like to hear Bettman try to be his usual persuasive self in defending the NHL’s handling of what we’ll call the John Scott affair.
Advice from here is to do the opposite. This is a time for the NHL to blame itself. For everything. For foolishly ignoring the possibility that fans would try to make a mockery of the All-Star selections. The NHL could have controlled the voting by preparing a ballot that included legitimate All-Star candidates only. It didn’t bother.
At the first sign of the John Scott movement, the league could have issued a statement that said All-Star participation would require a certain number of games played. The mischief makers would have howled and others would have scoffed, but that would have been the end. Once the NHL appeared to accept the consequences of its ways, it should have taken its lumps and played Scott’s All-Star appearance for the fun it could have been, amidst a lot of other stuff that is far from serious on All-Star weekend.
Instead, it gets the quickest “thumbs down” imaginable for trying to convince Scott to bow out and then for orchestrating his trade to Montreal, thus kicking him out. The NHL has somehow managed to make all hockey fans root for John Scott where only those who set him up as a fool to get their hoots were doing so originally.
Consider the irony – the NHL disrespecting John Scott.
January 17, 2016 – Trade of All-Star John Scott Raises Questions As To Motive & A Possible NHLPA Grievance
This article reports that the NHL offered Scott the chance to report to All Star weekend the same way an injured player would. He would still be able to do all the press and All Star events, but not actually play in the game. Scott declined and told them that he wanted to play.
For many fans, these reports when read together suggest the NHL and Coyotes actively sought to exclude Scott from the All-Star game, and when Scott refused to cede his place, he was shipped to a different conference and buried in the minors.
Immediately following the trade, Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said he expected the NHL would invite another Coyotes player to participate in the All-Star Game in John Scott’s place. For conspiracy theorists, the timing of this rather certain declaration added fuel to the fire.
The NHLPA can now investigate the trade and determine if the NHL didn’t give John Scott a fair shake. If the NHLPA can prove in their grievance that the NHL purposely caused Scott to suffer an economic loss as the result of the trade to the Canadiens, then they may be able to win their argument
Players on the winning All-Star team each get about USD$90,000. For Scott, this would have been a significant sum given his salary of $575,000.
There is also the possibility that Scott’s participation in the All-Star game could have resulted in a sponsor deal or generated other forms of income for the forward. While such an outcome is perhaps unlikely, Scott could have been seen as a cult hero as he tried to keep up with speedier players in the 3-on-3 competition. Sometimes heroes see a financial benefit (#Rudy).
As well, Scott is 33 years old and has just been shipped to a team that has no use for him. This may mean the end of his NHL career, and by extension, a stream of income.
They also throw a quick history lesson into the article:
Back in 2003, smooth skating defenceman Sandis Ozolinsh was traded from the Florida Panthers to the Western Conference Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks. Despite changing conferences, Ozolinsh played for his old Eastern Conference. Same goes with now-concussion plaintiff Bernie Nicholls in 1990. While this circumstance is different given that Scott is now the minors, he remains a player voted in by the fans.
That the leading vote-getter in the fan balloting can’t participate in the event – through a technicality or more nefarious reasons – renders the entire convention as futile. Which is fine for the NHL, we imagine, as the League has slowly taken away “the will of the fans” in an event that ostensibly theirs for the last decade: Going from 12 players voted in during previous incarnations of the All-Star Game down to just four in 2015-16.
Now, after the trade and demotion of Scott, the fans are fighting back. They’re calling for boycotts of the All Star game. And if you’ve been on the NHL’s Facebook or Instagram, almost all of their posts are littered with the #FreeJohnScott hashtag.
A quick look at a random Instagram post reiterates the #FreeJohnScott movement.
After being traded to the Canadiens, they told Scott that they have no plans to call him up to their NHL roster. Scott is now no longer in the Pacific Division, or even the Western Conference.
So far, the NHL has only said that “the league is evaluating how this trade impacts the Pacific division roster for the 2016 All-Star Game.”
Conspiracy theories arose with the trade, given that both the NHL and the Coyotes tried to persuade Scott to bow out of the All-Star Game and give way to one of his more deserving teammates, like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Max Domi, Shane Doan or Mikkel Boedker.
The Coyotes claim the trade had nothing to do with the All Star game. They claim that they were up against the fifty contract limit and they operate on their own budget. According to Coyotes’ GM Don Maloney, trading Scott was just one step in the direction of solving those two problems.
How is Scott responding to the trade?
All along, Scott held firm in his decision to attend All-Star weekend. His idea was to “go there with my family, just have some fun and enjoy the show.” The prospect of winning $91,000 in the new 3-on-3 tournament format might have also been a motivator for the only All-Star near the league minimum salary.
Instead, Scott’s entire world was flipped upside down on Friday. Scott went from Phoenix to St. John’s and his wife — due with twins in a few weeks — moved from Arizona back to Michigan.
“I never expected to go to Nashville or any kind of All-Star Game, especially the NHL,” Scott said. “It was exciting … I’ve talked about this probably too much. It is what it is. I didn’t want to get voted in that way, but fans voted me in, so I just kind of went with it. It was a big surprise, but I was, yeah, happy with it.”
That’s where we are as of tonight. With plenty of time left between now and the All Star game, most expect the John Scott situation to garner more attention. If I left out any good links then let me know in the comments.
Most likely due to the mounting criticism, the NHL has officially announced that John Scott will play in the All Star Game as the captain of the Pacific Division team.
NEW YORK – John Scott will captain the Pacific Division team at the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend in Nashville, the National Hockey League announced today.
Scott, elected to the Pacific Division captaincy in fan voting while a member of the Arizona Coyotes, was traded Friday to the Montreal Canadiens of the Atlantic Division. The resultant change in division, and Scott’s subsequent assignment to the American Hockey League, created a unique circumstance that required review – the result of which was a 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.
“I am looking forward to enjoying a fun and unique experience at All-Star Weekend in Nashville with my family,” said Scott. “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.”
That block quote is also the entire article that was put up on NHL.com