(Photo: Carly Mullady, NHL All-Star Media Day)

It’s been a rollercoaster with Arizona highs in NHL All-Star gloves and the lows of an AHL demotion to Newfoundland, but John Scott has, in fact, made his way to the NHL All-Star weekend festivities in Nashville.

He even has an NHL helmet like his fellow All-Star teammates.

“It’s nice to just kind of get all the outside noise to go away and start focusing on having fun and playing in the All-Star Game,” Scott said at Friday’s All-Star presser.

“When this whole thing started, obviously I got negative and positive feedback and now kind of everyone just put that aside and realized it’s going to happen, let’s have fun with it, make the best of it, and have a good time.”

One day ago, Scott shared his perspective in a captivating The Players’ Tribune piece–A Guy Like Me.

In it, he details the response from the NHL when he was selected as an All-Star Captain via fan vote. They weren’t happy.

In fact, Scott wrote, an NHL representative asked, “Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?”

He went on to share his response, which included the fact that, yes, his children would be proud.

But while I don’t deserve to be an All-Star, I also don’t think I deserve to be treated like I’ve been by the league throughout this saga. I’m an NHL player — and, whatever my set of skills may be, that I’m an NHL player is no accident. I genuinely believe that when I’m on the ice, or even just the bench, I make my teammates feel safe to do what they do best.

Does that make me an elite player? God, no. Am I going to be nervous as hell when I step onto the ice on Sunday — and I’m playing three-on-three, with Tarasenko whizzing by over one shoulder, and Toews putting the moves on me over the other? Of course. Will I be the worst skater in the game? I mean, probably.

But at the same time: this isn’t Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’m not some random person off the street, and I didn’t win a golden ticket to “play hockey with the stars.” I won an internet fan vote, sure. And at some point, without question, it was a joke. It might even finish as a joke. But it didn’t start as one. It started with a very small pool, out of a very small pool, out of the very, very smallest pool of hockey players in the world: NHLers. That was the vote. A fan vote, an internet vote — but a vote from among the 700 or so best hockey players in North American professional sports.

And I’m one of them.

And now he’s here. In Nashville. Despite whatever intentions sent him to Newfoundland while his former team was performing well, and whatever compelled the NHL (likely a loud #FreeScott NHL fan campaign) to announce he’d indeed be on the roster.

Scott met with Commissioner Gary Bettman Thursday night in Nashville.

“Now that I’m here it’s nice, they’ve been very welcoming,” Scott said. “I sat down with Gary. We had a little quick chat. He said, you know, we’re happy you’re here, we’re going to make the best of it. Just have fun.”

Scott said there was a time he was unsure how the league felt, but Bettman put those worries at rest.

“I think he was worried about me not feeling welcome here, feeling uncomfortable with this whole situation. He said we’re happy you’re here. We wanted you here. Just go and have fun, and, you know, our support is with you. And it was nice to hear that from him.”

Players throughout the league have texted or otherwise voiced their support for him through the entire ordeal–and they continued on media day.

 

“He’s nothing but nice. He’s here for a reason,” Columbus Blue JacketsBrandon Saad said. “It’s exciting for fans. He didn’t want to bring any of this upon himself.”

Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo echoed the sentiment.

“I’m all for it,” he said. “I’m excited to watch him. The fans want to see it. The players want to see it.”

That’s just what Scott would want to hear as this saga has progressed.

 

It means a lot–more than anything–to have your peers want you in the game.

 

Fan support has been pretty obvious with social media campaigns, but now it’s visible in Nashville as well.

As for whether the confusion and frustration following his selection could change the future All-Star game’s fan vote format, Scott said he wouldn’t be surprised if they tweak it to avoid this in the future.

“I think this (the fan vote) is good for the game. It’s gotten a lot of fans in. It’s gotten a lot of attention,” he said. “It could be a good thing.”

Scott All-Star shirts and jerseys are flying off the shelves.

“I’ve got to talk to somebody. I need some shirts for my family,” Scott said. “It’s nice to be a fan favorite.”

His wife, nine months pregnant with twins, received doctor permission to travel here for the weekend with his other two daughters.

He talked about trying to get sticks and autographs from other players and joked that he only brought a few of his own.

“It’s great,” Scott said. “I was nervous to be around all the superstars.”

While he never intended to be launched into the limelight, Scott seemed to see the silver lining to this spectacle. For one, he can show a bit more about who he is.

 

It’s nice to get a bigger scope like this for people to see–he’s a nice guy, a family guy. I don’t like when people call me a goon.

 

He focuses on being a skill player now, and despite not racking up points, he’s managed to stay in the league for eight years.

He’s not in favor of staged fighting and said he doesn’t look forward to fighting in games. He said fights are rarer, but do have their place, though even the fear of a fight can change the momentum of a game.

“There’s no strictly enforcer,” Scott said. “No, that role died years ago.”

This fan vote also gave him a chance to shine light on the third and fourth liners who work extra hard, practicing late, and going out of their way to do what may come easily for the other guys that’ll be on the All-Star roster.

It’s nice to get recognized for doing the grunt work in the game–for guys not naturally skilled in the game.

He’s not sure how it’ll translate when he hit’s the ice, though. While he tried to sign up for every skills competition, they limited him to the hardest shot, which he said may be the better fit.

And, for game time Sunday, he intends to give his all as captain and player.

“I’ve never played three-on-three, so we’ll see,” he said.

Mostly, Scott plans to take in this weekend with his peers and loved ones. He even photographed the media scrum surrounding him before stepping away.

 


“Then, I’m going back to Newfoundland,” he said. “You’re not in the NHL anymore. You’re not used to this. I’m going to enjoy it while I’m here.”

 

Don’t miss it!

The All-Star Skills Competition will take place at 6:00 p.m. CT Saturday, Jan. 30. Both will be televised on NBCSN in the U.S. and Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.

The All-Star Three-on-Three Tourney faces off at 4 p.m. CT Sunday, Jan. 31 at Bridgestone Arena. Divisions will battle, with the winners of the first two games will face off for a $1 million prize.

(As always, click the bold links for links to other items of interest.)

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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