At the end of the month, the NHL All-Star Game will take place in Nashville. This year, the league announced it was going to a new 3-on-3 format to shake things up, but all anybody’s talking about is a longtime goon who’s been waived three times this season alone: John Scott. On Saturday, the NHL announced that the Arizona Coyotes winger was one of the four division captains along with Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane and Jaromir Jagr.
Scott says he’s going to play, but how does a guy like him even get on an All-Star team? It’s all thanks to fan voting (fans pick the starting lineup, the league selects the rest). Once the 3-on-3 format was announced and voting opened on Dec. 1, fans began voting in droves for Scott because wouldn’t it be funny to see a guy known for face-punching playing with the NHL’s elite offensive stars in a 3-on-3 format? The campaign caught on and by Jan. 1, when voting closed, Scott was an All-Star. This is a guy who has one assist in 11 games this season, and five goals and 11 points in his entire seven-year career. Not exactly an offensive threat.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. In 2006-07, a similar campaign took place to get journeyman Vancouver defenseman Rory Fitzgerald into the All-Star Game that season. The “Vote for Rory” campaign snowballed quickly and sure enough, Fitzgerald was in line to get a starting spot on the team thanks to a Vote-o-Matic Firefox plug-in that allowed fans to vote automatically. Once the NHL realized what was happening, suddenly Fitzgerald’s votes dropped and he ended up missing the cut. He wasn’t quite at the level of a John Scott, but he was from All-Star caliber.
This time around, the league got on board with Scott instead of trying to digitally sandbag him. Will it be an embarrassment when this notorious goon takes the ice with the league’s best skaters? Probably, but it won’t be the first time. There have been plenty of subpar players who have made it to the game. Hell, Scott won’t even be the first goon named to an All-Star team. Back in 1991, Bruins coach Mike Milbury was in charge of the Wales Conference squad and decide to name Chris “Knuckles” Nilan to the team because…well, I’m not really sure why. It’s not like he was needed to beat up Wayne Gretzky or anything. In the end, Nilan missed the game because of a broken ankle. After that year, the NHL stopped allowing coaches to select the non-starters.
Ultimately, this isn’t a huge deal because it’s an all-star game and all-star games are dumb. Fans will likely tune in to see the spectacle of a 3-on-3 mini-game tournament as opposed to the usual 15-14 no-check goalfest. You know damn well that Scott’s teammates on the Pacific Division entry will do their best to try and get him a goal. Who knows, it could be interesting. Beats watching the Pro Bowl, amirite?