BUFFALO, N.Y. — Tough guy John Scott leads NHL all-star voting in the early going despite dressing for just six games this season and registering one assist.
Meanwhile, the ageless Jaromir Jagr is asking fans not to vote for him to play in the new three-on-three tournament format. And last year’s leading vote-getter, Zemgus Girgensons, also doesn’t want his native Latvia to send him to Nashville.
Safe to say all-star fan voting has gotten off to a bizarre start.
The online campaign for Scott hinges on the plodding enforcer being completely out of place among the game’s best and fastest players. But the affable Arizona Coyotes enforcer is laughing along and isn’t fighting against the movement.
"I’m not going to shy away from it," Scott said Friday. "I think it’s cool and fun, and if the fans want to throw me in the all-star game, I’ll definitely go. It’s kind of honour. It’s one of those things where not everybody gets to go, so I’m not going to be upset about it and pout about it. You’ve got to roll with it and have fun with it."
Scott so far has more votes than Alex Ovechkin, Jagr and leading scorer Patrick Kane. The leading vote-getter from each of the four divisions will make it as captain, and Scott is ahead of Coyotes teammate Max Domi and Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau in the Pacific.
Asked if he’d rather see breakout 19-year-old Domi in the all-star game instead of him, Scott replied: "I would rather see them in there with me, not besides me." Only six forwards make it from each division, and each team must have at least one player.
Domi isn’t even thinking all-star game yet despite 21 points in his first 25 NHL games but is thrilled that Scott is the centre of attention.
"He’s honestly probably one of the best people and one of the most funny and down-to-earth people I’ve ever met," Domi said. "So we’re all really happy and excited about it. It couldn’t happen to a better guy. I love it, and he’s handling it really well. We’re lucky to have him here and hopefully it just keeps going."
Jagr doesn’t want his momentum to keep going. The 43-year-old future Hall of Famer has 23 points this season for the Florida Panthers and is one of hockey’s greatest treasures, but he took to Twitter to campaign against himself.
"Fans-I appreciate your votes for All-Star game, but 3 on 3 would kill me, and I don’t want to die yet :)," Jagr tweeted. "Thank you for understanding. Too old :)."
If all-star voting, which runs through Jan. 1, ended Friday, Jagr would be the Atlantic Division captain. Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson trail Jagr.
Not too far down the leaderboard is Girgensons, the Buffalo Sabres forward who led all players last year with 1,574,896 votes. Girgensons tweeted a message in Latvian earlier in the week saying he didn’t want votes because he wanted to deserve that kind of honour.
"It’s not something I got too much satisfaction out of, so I don’t want to repeat that this year," Girgensons said after practice Thursday. "That should be deserved."
Scott’s numbers don’t make him deserving, but his personality would get a welcome showcase in Nashville. The 33-year-old called himself a "cheerleader" this season because he hasn’t played much, adding that he’s trying to mentor young players.
As far as making it to all-star weekend, Scott doesn’t find it embarrassing and is OK with it as long as it’s not a distraction to the Coyotes.
"I like to have fun with stuff and take light in everything, so I’m not going to focus on the negatives," Scott said. "Obviously the fans like me. I’m getting votes from everywhere, I guess. It’s one of those things where you could take it two ways, and I’m approaching it from the positive way."