(Photo: TheMagicMan Youtube)
Is the NHL the No Humor League? The Never-mind Hockey League? The Nope! Ha! League?
As a series of trades took fan vote Pacific Division Captain John Scott from the Arizona Coyotes to the Montreal Canadiens, where he was promptly sent to their AHL affiliate–the St. John’s IceCaps in Newfoundland–his eligibility for All-Star weekend has come into question.
The All-Star Game is really special to me this year. Over the summer I moved to somewhat of a hockey desert. I could rejoice in two games about three hours away, where the home team would do everything possible to keep me out, even as a resident of their state.
But, as a passionate hockey fan and hockey writer, news that the NHL approved my media credentials for All-Star weekend was like the universe rewarding me for my patience.
I’ll admit, I’m the kind of hockey fan that “hardcore” hockey fans hate. I like watching players juke through defensemen, fake a shot, then go top-shelf while everyone’s looking the other way. I like drop-passes. I live for short-handed breakaways.
Even better, I love when they mic players for games. The Road to the Winter Classic was addicting. Give me chirps. Give me elaborate, ridiculous celebrations. I’m bummed I missed Artem Anisimov‘s rifle celly and I think it’s lame he was punished. I love shootouts. There. I said it. I. Love. Shootouts.
All-Star Weekend is made for people like me. It’s entertaining. It’s over-the-top. It’s silly.
It is for the fans.
Or, at least, it should be.
This year, the NHL first did away with the fantasy draft, which was pretty solid entertainment as the fellas kicked back some drinks and picked teams on TV. Then, they turned the game into a three-on-three mini-tournament. Whatever. Fine. At least they kept the fan vote, right?
In order to prevent fans from voting in five players from one team and Zemgus Girgensons like last year, they decided fans could only choose one player for each division–and that player would captain his team.
And so, fans voted. The only rules were a 10 vote per day limit–fans weren’t supplied with a limited roster to choose from. They were given freedom to select any four players, as long it was one per division.
An internet campaign pushed gritty grinder John Scott into the lead for the Pacific Division. The NHL stopped promoting the fan vote.
If he was to make the All-Star Game, that would be, with all due respect, not an appropriate situation.
I don’t think Poile knows what “respect” means.
Alas, the fans had their say.
(Photo: NHL Public Relations)
Rumors by way of The Sporting News’ Bob McKenzie claim both the NHL and the Coyotes encouraged Scott to drop out of the game, but still attend the festivities with his family. He declined.
John Scott was previously asked by both NHL and Arizona Coyotes to bow out of NHL All-Star Game. He refused. Trade likely takes care of that
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 15, 2016
Instead, he and his family–which includes his wife who is pregnant with twins due All-Star weekend–embraced his captainhood. So, it appears, the NHL acting like the mafia or the scary stereotypical Russian government we hear about acted on its own. They “disappeared” him. They send him to the NHL’s equivalent of Siberia: the IceCaps.
I think [Scott] feels like there’s no question in his mind—and I, really, it strains the levels of credulity to think otherwise—his inclusion in this trade, in my mind, was absolutely orchestrated to solve the All-Star issue for the league.
Sure, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says no decisions have been made yet regarding Scott and the All-Star festivities.
It’s just mighty coincidental timing that the hosting team, Nashville, who already went on record saying they don’t want him there, initiated a three-team trade with Scott’s team, Arizona, that ultimately sends him to another division and drops him to the AHL.
What exactly has Scott done to deserve this banishment? He’s dropped gloves and laid some hits. But, he’s no Raffi Torres.
Scott has an engineering degree from Michigan Tech, where he was a defenseman. He didn’t take on the enforcer role until he started playing professionally–and he’s been a pro for 11 years.
Sure, he’s only tallied 11 NHL points during that time, but I’m certain plenty of teammates would credit him for having their backs over the years–and dishing out large portions of his small salary as punishment for doing so.
(Two of those fines were for clocking Tim Jackman…and really, who hasn’t wanted to do that?)
He knew his role on the ice. But, when he was able to score, he took pride in it with the kind of humor NHL players and fans appreciate–like after his first goal last season.
Any of you know this guy? Ya exactly me neither pic.twitter.com/YsSCKmoyrM
— Mirco Mueller (@muellermirco) January 13, 2015
He’s a pretty smart and lovable guy.
Former Sharks teammate Joe Pavelski told Mercury News that NHLers will be disappointed if Scott is taken out of the festivities.
“I think a lot of guys would be disappointed if he doesn’t end up going, which is what it kind of looks like,” Pavelski said. “It’s one of those situations you don’t really know what happened. But I’m sure the guys in Phoenix appreciated him when he was there and the guys here, being his teammate, enjoyed him and were looking forward to him being in the All-Star Game.”
Pavelski would be a potential replacement captain, but said, “I think we wanted Johnny Scott to the captain.”
Scott was ready, too.
All-Star weekend gives Scott, a father of two with two more children on the way, a chance at $90,000–the winning team gets $1 million. By pushing him out of the game, the NHL is revoking that financial opportunity from a player who doesn’t have a boast-worthy league salary.
If the NHL chooses to drop Scott, they’ll be setting a new precedent. Not only are they letting down Scott and fans who voted diligently for their player of choice, they’re ignoring previous policy.
In 1990, Bernie Nicholls was traded from the Los Angeles Kings in the Campbell Conference to the New York Rangers in the Wales Conference and was still about to play for the Campbell team. In 2003, Sandis Ozolinsh was traded from the Eastern Conference Florida Panthers to the Western Conference Anaheim Ducks, but still represented the Eastern Conference for the All-Star Game.
And, look, the league has already shown they aren’t picking the best players in the division for each position. Selecting Pekka Rinne as the Central Division goalie is evidence of this. He has a .902 save percentage, which is 41st in the league–and a 2.57 goals-against average, which puts him at 29th. He’s had two shutouts. Corey Crawford, meanwhile, has a league-topping six shutouts, is sixth place with a .929 save percentage, and is 10th with a 2.17 goals-against average. Yeah, yeah, they’re giving the hosting team a perk. But, given their treatment of Scott right now, they look like the National Hypocrite League.
Nashville got what it wanted with a sub-par goalie in the Central Division’s All-Star team. Now, give the fans what they want, what they voted for, fair-and-square: Captain John Scott.