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From Joke to MVP

By Thomas Gillen
Assistant A&E Editor

John Scott is the last of a dying breed in the National Hockey League. At six-foot-eight and 270 pounds, Scott’s main role on the ice is to fight and to stick up for his teammates. Players like Scott are also known as enforcers and are slowly becoming a part of hockey’s past. Enforcers and fighting have been slowly pushed out of the NHL over the last few years as the game has gotten faster and more fragile.

John Scott, the MVP of the NHL All-Star game, has been the focal point of a dispute in the league. Twitter/thehockeynews
John Scott, the MVP of the NHL All-Star game, has been the focal point of a dispute in the league.

Former enforcers Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak and Rick Rypien died during the summer of 2011 from a mix of depression and chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, according to news reports at the time.

Since entering the NHL eight years ago, Scott has 11 points in 285 games. Though Scott is far from one of the best players in the league, he is extremely popular with his teammates and excels in his limited role. When it came time for fans to vote players into the All-Star Game starting on Dec. 1, Scott ended up with the most votes, becoming captain of the Pacific Division team.

Hemel Jhaveri wrote in the beginning of January, “So, how exactly do hockey fans unite to make Scott, an unlikely at best candidate for the All-Star Game, into a favorite? On the surface it’s as simple as fans getting in on the joke, but the impetus to vote Scott into the game was an off-hand remark that caught fire.

Right after the new 3-on-3 for- mat for the game was announced,” Yahoo’s Greg Wyshynski mentioned on his very popular podcast how fun it would be to see Scott in the game. However, the NHL was allegedly embarrassed that Scott earned a spot in the game over more talented players and asked him to decline his nomination, according to Bob McKenzie, TSN hockey analyst. McKenzie tweeted, “John Scott was previously asked by both NHL and Arizona Coyotes to bow out of NHL All-Star Game. He refused.”

After encouragement from players and fans, Scott refused to decline his spot after being asked by the NHL and was subsequently traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Montreal Canadiens. He was then sent down to Montreal’s minor league team, preventing him from participating in the game because he was no longer part of a team in the Pacific Division and was classified as a minor league player.

The NHL hoped to diffuse the situation by trading him to Montreal, but that only made fans and players root for Scott that much more. Scott was then reinstated into the All-Star Game by the NHL after fans threatened to boycott the game and a petition on addressed to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly for Scott to stay in the game gained nearly 10,000 supporters.

Throughout All-Star weekend from Jan. 30 through 31, Scott was swarmed by the media and became the golden boy of the weekend. After participating in two events for the skills competition, he took over the game by scoring two goals, winning MVP and taking home a new car. Even though the NHL handled this situation very poorly by trading Scott out of the Pacific Division and sending him to Montreal’s minor league team, I was very happy to see them fix their mistake and let him play. With Montreal currently out of the playoffs, it is unlikely he will be called up from the minors to help the team push for a playoff spot.

John Scott is truly a one-of-a-kind player, enforcer or not. He has a true passion for the game and will do whatever it takes to help his team win. He became a huge success story and helped make the All-Star Game fun again. Whether it is with the Montreal Canadiens or another team, I look forward to seeing Scott play in the NHL once more and keep the role of the enforcer alive.

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