The John Scott saga came to a fever pitch Tuesday when the NHL announced that the former Arizona Coyotes enforcer would in fact be playing in the 2016 All-Star Game, despite being traded to the Montreal Canadiens last week.
But according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Scott’s all-star fate was never in doubt.
“The fans spoke in large numbers for the process and he’s going to be joining us in Nashville. There was never any doubt about that,” Bettman told CSNBAYAREA.com during an appearance at the SAP Center to celebrate the San Jose Sharks’ 25th anniversary.
“Obviously the fans decided it was important to vote for him, and we respect that,” said Bettman. “Whether or not we need to make adjustments into the future and ensure that truly All-Star players are there is something we’ll worry about after we go to Nashville.”
On whether or not the league had to make a final decision on Scott’s participation, Bettman said “No.”
“We had to evaluate the circumstances to make sure we weren’t missing anything,” he explained. “But the league never had to make a different decision over the weekend. I know there was a lot of speculation about that. That was not true.”
The spotlight has been focused intently on Scott since he was voted by fans to be one of four division captains earlier this month — a spotlight that Scott says he never wanted.
“I don’t really care for the mass attention, especially on something like this, I’d rather it be for something else,” Scott told Sportsnet’s Tim and Sid on Tuesday, adding, “It could be worse, right? Like, the fans voted me into the All-Star Game. I’m not going to have a pity party about that.
“It was definitely a difficult spot I was put in…I wouldn’t put it on most people,” he said.
Though he wouldn’t offer much detail, Scott told Prime Time Sports on Tuesday that he spoke with league officials about the voting results and they “weren’t really excited about me playing in the game.”
Scott also explained that while at first, he was against playing in the game, none of his now-former Coyotes teammates objected, giving him the go-ahead to fulfill his role as Pacific Division captain. If any had objected, Scott said he would have bowed out.