So the people who, for reasons only they must know, wanted to crap on the NHL, got to do it twice. Three times, actually.
They must feel very proud of their accomplishments. What a public service.
A movement, including some who think the NHL All-Star game concept should be done away with entirely, started last fall to try and humiliate the league and its all-star process by campaigning for goon John Scott and his five career goals to be included in the January showcase.
The league had invited fans to vote on who should play in the game, apparently doing so in good faith believing that hockey fans would enjoy participating. You know, rather than just having the league name the teams.
However, some people had a better idea. Let’s wreck the game. Let’s spit on the All-Star Game.
See, the big lie here is that people voted in Scott because they want to see him play three-on-three hockey in the All-Star Game.
The truth is, they did so to make a mockery of the league and the sport. That was the clear objective.
It was an echo of a couple of years ago when Rory Fitzpatrick was the chosen messenger. It was the equivalent of the drunk heckler at a comedy show who keeps insisting he’s only doing it because the comedian is no good, not because he’s drunk and a jerk.
That behaviour makes the drunk feel empowered. Same for those who think the Scott-for-All-Star was clever. These are people who laugh loudest at their own jokes.
Well, the campaign worked, and was so successful Scott garnered enough votes to captain the Pacific Division's team. Given that he can’t play the actual sport proficiently enough to be in the NHL and relies on his pugilistic “talents” to draw an NHL salary — he’s made upwards of $4 million over the last seven years — any number of reasonable people approached him to suggest a variety of graceful exits from his predicament.
He could go to the All-Star weekend as the league’s guest. Take his family, and perhaps even accept a cut of the winners' $1 million share.
You know, do the game a solid. And in so doing, allow a deserving teammate like Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Shane Doan to go to Nashville. Everybody wins, and Scott comes out looking like a selfless, classy guy.
Nope, said Scott to these entreaties as he ticked off another game as a Coyotes healthy scratch, I’m going. This is the “opportunity of a lifetime.”
No, John, it would be the opportunity of a lifetime if you’d in any way, shape or form earned your way there by having a surprisingly good season (like, say, Michal Neuvirth or Leo Komarov or Mike Hoffman). Having an NHL team commit to letting you play on a top line with talented players as a chance to demonstrate you’re more than just a cementhead would be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Like Rocky fighting Apollo Creed. Like a qualifier getting to play Roger Federer at Wimbledon, or being No. 700 on the money and getting to play on Saturday in a group with Jordan Spieth.
By contrast, your “opportunity of a lifetime,” John Scott, is an egregious clerical error.
This is Scott pretending he gets the joke he's actually the butt of. He apparently believes those who want to mock him actually want to honor him.
This is like Phil Kessel pretending to laugh along with everyone when he was the last pick of the 2011 All-Star Draft, then saying, oh yeah, it was really fun.
At any rate, then came the trade last Friday between Montreal and Arizona, the objective of which was to get Jarred Tinordi off the Habs roster from a Montreal point-of-view, and to acquire a former first round pick with some potential, from Arizona’s point of view. Scott was just a throw-in to make the math and roster numbers work.
Those that had sought to humiliate the league were then outraged, prematurely as it turned out, believing the trade had spoiled their prank.
How dare the NHL flaunt democracy like this? And what about Scott’s poor pregnant wife? Damn it, we won’t watch the game now!
For a day or so it seem like there was going to be a #FreeJohnScott Telethon.
Except the NHL never said Scott wouldn’t be allowed to go to Nashville just because he was in the American Hockey League. They didn’t say a word, and when Scott arrived in St. John’s this week, he acknowledged he hadn’t been told he wasn’t going.
This morning, after having one last conversation with Scott last night, the league announced he would be permitted to go to Nashville despite the fact that he’s not a bona fide NHL player.
Now, all those who sought to humiliate the NHL and then lathered themselves in phony outrage when they weren’t going to get their way are crowing that the league has been forced to “backtrack” on banning Scott from the All-Star Game.
Power of the people, dude!
Even though the league never said Scott wouldn’t be allowed to go.
This, ladies and gentlemen, will go down as one of the truly dumbest episodes in NHL history, and the fact so many have taken it seriously as a test of democracy, or a question of process or evidence of how the league doesn’t listen to its fans has just taken the absurdity of it all to a new level.
Yet, there’s still an out. There’s still an opportunity for Scott to do the right thing, asked to be excused so a deserving former teammate from Arizona can go to the game. He can use the excuse of needing to be with his wife while she prepares to give birth to twins, rather than joining the big party in Music City.
It’s still there for you, big fella. You’d still get to be the hero of social media and those who love to dump on the NHL.
All you have to do is be smart enough to take the opportunity. Smart enough not to go to Nashville so you can be the centre of attention and take that attention away from talented, hardworking colleagues who actually may have distinguished themselves and earned their invitation.
Maybe you don’t want to help people crap on a sport that’s earned you a lot of money and included you in 285 regular season games because you’re 6-foot-8 and can punch.
Or, let the pranksters get their way. Let the NHL be a joke. It’s your call.