In defence of John Scott’s all-star inclusion

Arizona’s John Scott talks to the media about being named All-Star Game captain, playing 3-on-3 hockey, and how he is approaching the experience.

In the few times this journalist’s path has passed through the shadow of big John Scott, we’ve always found him to be a hale fellow well met.

Sure, he’s a big galoot whose role is just this side of the pterodactyl in today’s game, but as far as guys go, I’ve met plenty of 25-goal scorers who I’d be less likely to go for a beer with than Scott. Or starting goalies? Forget about it.

We all know there is a sector of the hockey world that cringes upon the news that Scott was named a captain of the Pacific Division team at the upcoming all-star game in Nashville. But inside the game there are more folks on my side, offering the silent golf clap as a player who might have had a hard time buying a ticket to the game in past years readies himself for a walk down the red carpet on Jan. 30.

“I’ve never been on the ice 3-on-3 before, so it’s going to be interesting,” said the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Edmonton native. “It’ll be pretty intimidating, I’m not going to lie. Hopefully I can keep up.

“I’ll be fine, it’s just the space that might create a little trouble for me, but we’ll adapt and make the best of it. I’m sure not everyone will be going 100 per cent...”

If you don’t know, the new all-star format goes like this: teams of 11 players from each division will play a three-game tournament, with a big whack of cash on the table for the winners. The theory is that the game has devolved into a non-contact danglefest anyhow, so why not just go to 3-on-3 where no hitting is expected, and let the skill guys have at ‘er?

Then some folks (in Arizona, we suspect) decided to make John Scott a thing.

Why him?

“I have no idea,” he said. “Even when it started I said, ‘Don’t vote for me, vote for my teammates.’ I tried to deflect, deflect, and it kept going. I have no clue how this got going or how I got voted, but I’ll take it.

“You can look at it two ways,” the soft-spoken giant continued. “You can either take the negative and say that I don’t belong there, I don’t deserve it, and that would just spiral downward and you can end up losing your mind. Or, you can look at it the positive way. It started off as a joke, but now I’m going to have fun with it. I’ve talked to a lot of past and present players (who) say, ‘You’ve grinded it out for that many years and it’s good for the game, it’s good for you. Just have fun.’”

Those inside the game will cheer for Scott, and you can be guaranteed that his teammates on his Pacific Division team will take much pleasure in being the one to assists on a John Scott all-star goal. That’s just the way hockey players are: Scott might never have stood up for Johnny Gaudreau or Taylor Hall per se, but they’ve each played with enough John Scotts over the years who had their backs.

“John Scott the individual is a great human being,” said Edmonton head coach Todd McLellan, who had Scott in San Jose. “He’s got a great family, he’s a real good teammate who shows up at the rink and cares about everybody. He just happens to be the villain, because of the role he plays.”

Scott’s family lived in Edmonton until he was four, when the killer tornado of 1987 ripped through the Evergreen Trailer Park and demolished the family trailer. So they moved in with his grandparents in St. Catherines, Ont.

On the day the National Hockey League press release went out announcing him as a captain of Team Pacific, his own coach in Arizona made him a healthy scratch against the Oilers. Meanwhile, Jaromir Jagr tweeted:

Said Scott: “I’ll be happy to oblige. Maybe we can face off against each other and have a little fight.”

Hey, if they’re going to invite John Scott to an all-star game, maybe we should have a scrap or two. The game has been a tad boring of late…