The 2016 NHL All-Star Game was supposed to be different. The NHL achieved that goal thanks to rule changes — and John Scott.
AHL enforcer John Scott was not only a part of the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. He was also the captain of his team.
It all started out as a joke, brought to life by Yahoo! Sports blogger Greg Wyshinsky. From a December article:
"The NHL might despise it. The players might think it turns a joke of a game into an even bigger punchline, and many fans would agree with them.But in the grand list of “reasons to care about the 2016 NHL All-Star Game,” watching John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes lug his ass up and down the rink in a 3-on-3 tournament with the best offensive players in the world ranks near the top. Right next to “watching John Scott in the breakaway skills competition challenge.”We mentioned this scenario on our podcast right after the 3-on-3 format was announced, and championed the idea since then. Other podcasts backed the notion too, and Reddit threw the awesome power of its fully armed and operational battle station behind the effort. As a result, John Scott was third in the All-Star Game fan voting as of Tuesday morning, and rising quickly."
We all know what happened next. Scott won the vote, the NHL tried to force him to forfeit, he said no, the Arizona Coyotes traded him to the Montreal Canadiens in a trade that was most likely initiated by the league, but Scott ended up captaining Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin’s Team Pacific anyway. Representing the American Hockey League’s St. John’s IceCaps.
As opposed to Sedin, Scott did not deserve to be an All-Star. But yet, that joke was the best thing that could have happened to the NHL. It was better than anything Gary Bettman could have imagined.
When Scott won the vote, the hockey world went crazy. Fans and players supported him, no matter which team they play for.
John Scott player shirts were sold out within hours, and his All-Star jersey was in great demand all around the world.
When Scott stepped on the ice for the skills competition, the crowd went absolutely wild. Patrick Kane had reportedly told Scott something along the lines of “watch how they’ll boo me,” explaining Scott’s very friendly laugh when Kane indeed gets booed.
Of course, the same thing happened when Scott entred the ice for the actual All-Star Game.
All that shows us something that is extremely important for the NHL: people watched the All-Star events, and they actually cared and got excited about them. That’s something worth mentioning after the past decade of terribly boring weekends.
Of course, the new format did something to that as well. A 3-on-3 tournament is new, and seeing line combinations like Patrice Bergeron-Steven Stamkos-P.K. Subban sure was exciting. We all would have at least taken a short look. But this way, the whole weekend was exciting.
And it only got better when John Scott joined game action. First game. First shift. First shot. First goal. Kane celly.
The NHL might not have wanted Scott at the event in the first place, but they quickly realized the situation’s potential and had a camera guy who followed Scott’s every move.
If you were active on Twitter during that game, you’ll know that the entire network was experiencing a John Scott love overload. But it didn’t end there.
First, the eight-year NHL veteran scored another one.
At that point, I only had one big All-Star Game dream left. I really wanted Scott to fight someone. You know, not a real fight. I just wanted him to “beat someone up” in the most theatrical way.
Then it happened.
Scott delivered a huge hit on Kane.
He then drove to the net, but couldn’t capitalize on his scoring opportunity. The puck ended up on Kane’s stick, and he scored on the other side of the rink. Not the greatest Scott moment of the night, but what followed next might have been just that.
Patrick Kane quickly ended his celebration to skate up to Scott and drop the gloves. An epic night.
Can I tell you it still got better?
Scott got another one — and he looked like the happiest man on earth after that goal. At that point, Scott had certainly forgotten anything that happened leading up to the ASG, and simply enjoyed the moment. Which is the best thing to do, in my opinion.
To no one’s surprise, Scott also claimed the MVP title.
The fans loved him, his teammates loved him, every other player loved him. The NHL All-Star Game has never been that exciting and fun before.
To wrap this up, remember the story about an NHL representative asking Scott if this was something his kids would be proud of him for? Well… They probably are.
Letting the fans vote for their division captains without preselecting nominees was a mistake on the league’s side. It was one that might have made the 2016 NHL All-Star Game the most excited ASG of all time. John Scott was the best thing that could have happened to the league to make their joke event exciting again — by adding an amazing punchline.
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That said, the NHL should most certainly change the voting system for next season. What made this weekend so amazing is the fact that it was unique and unexpected.
It was better than anything the world’s best screenwriters could have written. This story was so good, had it been a movie before it actually happened, people would have said: “wow, this is just another super cheesy and unrealistic sports story.”
If fans voted for the next-worst NHL player — someone like Zach Sill (90GP, 2G, 5P) — to be a team captain next year, it wouldn’t be nearly as funny as it was this year. It seems safe to assume that fans wouldn’t do anything like that again, but we never know.
Now, wouldn’t it make sense to let the fans do what they want, since they are the ones who are supposed to watch the game in the end? That’s right, but it would never get close to this year’s weekend.
It was an amazing All-Star weekend with an unlikely hero. An event that could easily go down in hockey history as the best All-Star Game of all time. John Scott was the best thing that could have happened to the NHL.
What do you think about the way the 2016 NHL All-Star Game went down? Did you watch and enjoy the events? What do you think about John Scott? Let us know in the comments!