Granted, it’s not every day a marginal player becomes an All-Star.
In the case of John Scott, now declared eligible to be a captain in the up-coming All-Star contest in Nashville, there is something terribly wrong with this whole development. Here’s a player waived three time from the Arizona Coyotes this season, and then, he is finally traded. His new team, the Montreal Canadiens, thinks in the same lowly predicament as the other clubs. That’s because Scott was not picked up by any team the three previous times running.
What does that say about the worth and value of John Scott to a professional team, or any team for that matter. While Scott may show little importance in some distant capacity, Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin and others within the organization have to believe Scott is far from worthy of All-Star consideration. That’s in concert with another issue of being a team captain.
As more of a folly and madness on the part of the voters, Scott’s approval at the fan level says little about the caliber, substance and integrity of the game. While most take the game of hockey and the NHL seriously, there are the usual number for people, whatever reason, which believe the bizarre and peculiar are more important than the natural. In the course of events, Scott’s terrible numbers should be a testament how fans perceive his worth.
Among championship events, an All-Star selection is held in high esteem, and thought to be the combination of production on the field of play and value to their particular team.
In Scott’s case, he is definitely not productive and his value to an organization was clearly demonstrated over the past few weeks. While the Coyotes have shown improvement over their dreadful season of a year ago, pundits were aghast during the last off-season when Arizona signed Scott as a free agent.
Here’s Scott, now with his seventh NHL organization, and with miserable numbers. Coming into this season, the native of Edmonton scored five goals in 274 games, was minus 18 in all games before this season and picked up 517 career penalty minutes.
After Scott’s trade to Montreal, the Coyotes lost their lone representative to the All-Star game. Earlier this week, the NHL ruled that Scott can be resurrected from purgatory, rejoin his NHL teammates, wear a Coyotes’ sweater and assume the captaincy in the All-Star game.
More bizarre than ever.
The question remains, how could Scott be a member of an organization which just released him? And, now, what happens to legitimate members of the Arizona organization who earned the right to be an “All-Star.”
All Teams Should be Represented
Two representatives would be appropriate.
Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who was an All-Star at last season’s game in Columbus, remains among the top blue-liners in the game. Despite playing in a small market like Phoenix, the native of Karlskrona, Sweden is third in the league with 13 goals among defensemen, and fourth among defenseman with 33 points. Another worthy candidate could be captain Shane Doan, who established the franchise record for most goals and, at age 39, is having one of his better offensive seasons. Plus, this could be Doan’s last season, and his value to the Arizona organization, and to the league, is compelling.
From his perspective, it sounds like Ekman-Larsson would like to pass up the All-Star game this season. He is flying his parents in from Sweden for the break, and plans to show his family sunny Arizona.
“It’s good for this team to get five days off, and everybody has a chance to rest up,” Ekman-Larsson told Arizona Sports.com. “If you look at the standings right now, every game is so important for us. It’s going to do us good that we have five days off.”
Still, an active player from the current Arizona roster would fill the league’s commitment to have every team represented. At this point, it’s hard to phantom Scott representing the Coyotes in this scenario, which would have made P. T. Barnum happy as the delusional ring-master.
The solution to this dilemma is for the league to recognize its responsibility to the game and the fans. While fans clearly have an important voice, the league needs to set some criteria for writing in a player’s game. The barometer should be based on the amount of ice time the player logged and the number of games played. As well, the league would create a list of five players, based on ice time and production, and the fans could honor two as captains. Writing-in a player would require the league to establish a certain standard, and the most likely would be games played and ice time accrued.
For now, the Scott fiasco stands, and that’s to the chagrin of the purists. Above all, the NHL needs to take credible steps to assure a current player from each team is represented in the All-Star game. Going forward, the Scott experience will be remembered as a sad and unwelcomed footnote to the storied annuals of the league.
Mark Brown is a former sports editor for daily newspapers in the Philadelphia and Cincinnati markets. He was named Best Sports Columnist, honorable mention 2004 by the Associated Press Society of Ohio. He is a contributor to major daily newspapers, including the Chicago Sun Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Milwaukee Journal, Arizona Republic, Nashville Tennessean and the Associated Press. He was a Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com and covered the Arizona Coyotes.