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The Mass Media

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NHL All-Star Not Being Let Shine

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A fan vote has brought defensive enforcer John Howard Scott to All-Star weekend despite the NHL’s efforts to prevent him from playing there. 

The NHL All-Star Game, like every other North American professional sports All-Star Game, is a showcase of the league’s top talent. Typically it is comprised of two teams: East vs. West, American League vs. National League, or the AFC vs. NFC for example. However, the NHL does it a little differently. Since the league is made up of four divisions without conferences, there will be three 20-minute games played in a playoff amongst the four divisions. Also, the All-Star Game will be played in a 3-on-3 format, which the NHL shifted its overtime to this past offseason. Also, fans are now allowed to vote in one player for each conference—that player is then named captain. This has brought on problems for the NHL.
Like I’ve said before, the All-Star Game is typically a showcase of a league’s top talent. However, this didn’t stop fans from voting in John Scott (at the time playing for the Arizona Coyotes of the Pacific Division). Scott is typically regarded as the least talented hockey player in the game today, and maybe of all time. Scott stands at 6 feet 8 inches and weighs roughly 270 pounds. Scott began accumulating a lot of votes as soon as the voting opened. For whatever reason, fans wanted to see him in the All-Star Game. Perhaps they thought it would be funny. Or maybe fans just wanted to give him something to be proud of in his career, since he has, in fact, only scored five goals and 11 points in 285 games played. The voting eventually made this a reality, as Scott won the fan vote for his division. However, the league did not find this amusing and certainly not good for the game.
After the announcement was made that Scott won the vote, he was soon traded to the Montreal Canadiens, who were part of the Atlantic Division and not the division that Scott was voted captain of. Soon after the trade, Montreal sent him down to their AHL affiliate, the St. John’s Ice Caps. It was reported by Bob McKenzie that the league requested Scott remove himself from the All-Star Game, to which he refused. This led to the idea that the league was setting him up to be ineligible for the All-Star Game as it would be strange to have the captain of the NHL’s Pacific Division All-Star team neither playing for a Pacific Division team nor in the NHL. There was much outcry from fans across the league; they were promised a vote and a voice and they made it clear who they wanted. However, the league disagreed. Eventually, the public forced the league into submission, and on January 19, 2016, the NHL announced that Scott would remain captain of the Pacific Division All-Star team. The next week, Scott would submit a letter to the Player’s Tribune saying that the league had officially tried to persuade him not to play. Scott said in the letter that an NHL representative asked him in a phone call, “Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?” which Scott said was the deciding factor in his decision to play. Scott said that “…while I may not deserve to be an NHL All-Star, I know I deserve to be the judge of what my kids will, and won’t, be proud of me for.” This statement, and his letter in its entirety seems to resonate with fans, and really shows why they voted him into the game in the first place.
Scott, though not the most talented, is the hard working player who has played for seven different teams in his career. He has welcomed his label and job as an enforcer or “goon.” However, that hasn’t stopped him from doing anything and everything he can to remain an NHL player. Scott works hard to remain in the league because he cares about it and the sport of hockey. Scott makes tremendous sacrifices such as moving all over the country and getting in fights frequently, all so he can remain in the league and serve a purpose. Scott was never shy about admitting he does not deserve the honor of the All-Star Game. In fact, he openly told fans that he appreciated the gesture, but that they should not have voted for him. However, the mistreatment he and the fans received after they had spoken out was what made John Scott realize he did earn the honor to play in the All-Star Game. The fans wanted to see him in the game, and they deserved that, so for the league to not follow up on that opportunity was wrong. Scott was chosen and deserved to go for that reason, period. He did not deserve a league conspiracy that would make him ineligible, especially since he has worked as hard as he has to continue to represent the NHL and the teams he plays for in the best way he can. Through this whole bizarre scandal, John Scott may not have proven his All-Star level skill, but he has certainly proven his All-Star level heart.