This past Sunday, the 2016 NHL All-Star game was played in Nashville, TN and it might have been the most memorable NHL All-Star game in recent history. This was made possible by one man, John Scott.
For those of you that have been living under a rock the past month or so, John Scott, the 6′ 8″ 260lbs enforcer with only 5 career goals, was voted into the All-Star Game via fan vote. This was thanks to an online campaign with the aim of exploiting the voting system. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know who John Scott was before this whole thing started. I barely knew that he briefly played for the Rangers. When it was announced that Scott would captain the Pacific Division team, it was received with mixed opinions. Personally, I was genuinely happy for the guy. I thought it would add an interesting dynamic to the usually dismal All-Star Game.
Then the reports came out that Scott had been traded to the Montreal Canadiens and subsequently sent down to their AHL affiliate, the St. John’s Ice Caps in a multi-player deal that seemed to be orchestrated by the league themselves. This was all supposedly in an attempt to keep Scott out of the All-Star Game after he refused to bow out on his own.
The #habs sent John Scott to AHL St. John's and aren't likely to recall him. That would make him ineligible for the NHL all-star game.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 15, 2016
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
Well after this, I was 100% for John Scott and his participation in the All-Star Game…and so was the rest of twitter. Within a few hours #FreeJohnScott was trending and people were demanding he be allowed to play.
Eventually, the NHL was tired of being the bad guy and did the right thing. They announced on January 19th, that John Scott would captain the Pacific Division team in the ASG, citing “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.”
Then the news broke that Alex Ovechkin and Jonathan Toews both pulled out of the All-Star Game just days before puck drop because of previous injuries.
Fast forward to the skills competition…
The night started off with Dylan Larkin, the 19 year-old Detroit rookie, breaking the fastest lap record in 13.172 seconds.
Then came the breakaway challenge, which P.K. Subban won for this Jaromir Jagr impersonation.
And who can forget Brent Burn’s Chewbacca impersonation.
The Eastern Conference team ending up dominating the Skills Competition and won 29-12.
The All-Star Game opened up with Atlantic vs. Metropolitan in the new 3v3 format. The Atlantic pulled away with a 4-3 win over the Metropolitan. Dylan Larkin notched a team-leading three points, and was the only multi-point player for his team.
Next up was Central vs. Pacific. James Neal opened up the scoring for the Central. Then the unthinkable happened…JOHN SCOTT SCORED A GOAL.
His celly might have been the highlight of my night (and everyone else’s). Then in the second half, John Freaking Scott decides he wants to score AGAIN on a breakaway.
The Pacific went on to defeat the Central on a score of 9-6.
The final matchup of this new tournament-style All-Star Game pitted Pacific against Atlantic for all the marbles. No scoring in the first half courtesy of some excellent goaltending by Jonathan Quick and Roberto Luongo. Scoring opened up in the second with a goal by Corey Perry, which proved to be the game winner. Pacific Division wins it 1-0.
And that’s not even the best part…
Thanks to yet another online campaign that was supported by multiple official NHL team twitter accounts, John Scott was voted MVP of the All-Star Game.
I mean how can you not be happy for this guy? He was really the highlight of the entire event. His All-Star Jersey sold out in 30 minutes. The St. Johns Ice Caps even changed their twitter name to “St. JohnScott Ice Caps.” His All-Star helmet is currently being displayed at the Hockey HOF. It’s just an incredible story.
Scott has, more than anything, proven to be someone the NHL should be proud of having in its family. The way he carried himself throughout the weekend was truly amazing. And seeing how everyone enjoyed it, from the fans, to his family, to the fellow players, makes it almost unthinkable that the NHL initially considered his presence a bad idea.
This has always been a chance for the league to show a little more life and personality, and that’s exactly what Scott brought to the table. We may never have an All-Star Game exactly like this again, even if 3-on-3 is here to stay (I hate to admit it but it was pretty awesome even though it wasn’t a gongshow like I expected), but man, this was special.
P.S. Read this article Scott wrote for The Player’s Tribune.