“MVP! MVP! MVP”
That was the chant that echoed from nearly 20,000 fans at the conclusion of the 2016 NHL All-Star game at Bridgestone Arena.
That chant wasn’t directed at Jonathan Quick, who helped the Pacific Division post a shutout in the championship game. It wasn’t directed at hometown favorite James Neal, who scored two goals and tallied an assist in the preliminary rounds.
It was overwhelmingly directed at the poster child of the NHL’s marquee weekend, John Scott.
The Instigator of the Problem
This whole ordeal with John Scott and the NHL exposed a problem that is rampant across All-Star voting in every single sport. It is a popularity contest, and that has rung true ever since All-Star voting has been in the hands of the fans.
But this year things were different.
Mid-way through the voting process, Scott was ahead of everyone by a huge margin, it wasn’t even close.
That’s the last thing the NHL wanted. An enforcer, a guy who has 542 penalty minutes in 285 career games, and a guy who has only ever found the back of the net five times in an NHL uniform.
He was going to be an All-Star? Yes. The fans spoke, and jokingly or not, John Scott was going to captain the Pacific division All-Star team. I mean the NHL made a promise, they had to keep it, right?
That’s when things took a turn for the worst.
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
John Scott was traded to the Montreal Canadiens and sent down to the AHL immediately. He wasn’t going to be called back up, either.
That effectively nullified any chance of him playing in the All-Star game.
This was a culmination of the NHL’s failure to regulate an All-Star ballot, and it turned into a mess very fast. What was seemingly a poke at fun to send an enforcer out on the ice with elite talent in a 3-on-3 setting, turned into a player getting traded across the country, losing his shot at getting a once in a lifetime opportunity, and uprooting a family in the process:
“I try not to think about how young my daughters are, and how much they’ll hate the move. Or about the stress it will place on my wife, who is nine months pregnant with twins. Or about the fondness I feel for the guys in Phoenix — our group that no one believed in — and the pride I feel for what we’ve accomplished together. I try not to think about how I don’t want to leave.”
That was from an very emotional piece that he wrote just a short time ago.
Keep in mind, John Scott isn’t a player that is irreplaceable, he is easily disposable in a world where the enforcer is dying out very quickly. He had a spot that got him some playing time in Arizona. Trading him to Montreal may very well have put to bed any hopes of the 33-year old seeing NHL ice ever again, all because of a silly All-Star vote that he won.
Would the NHL come to their senses and let him play?
Thankfully they would, due much in part to the outcry from fans on Twitter and other social media who saw the NHL’s wrongdoing here.
Making the Most of Every Moment
When the NHL made it known that John Scott would play in the All-Star game, it put everyone on his side. Players, fans, anyone you could think of. In fact, it gave people a reason to watch the meaningless game.
But what would really happen with a “goon” out on the ice in what is without a doubt the fastest part of the game?
Admittedly, I, along with many other people, thought there is no way he would be able to keep up or looked like he belonged, but hey, it was worth watching, right?
Worth watching was an understatement.
From the introductions at the forefront of the skills-competition to be able to participate in the hardest shot competition, you could already tell he was having the time of his life.
John Scott laughing in Kanes face 😂😂 https://t.co/4UiTywfJ5L
— Hockey Posts™ (@HockeyPosts) January 31, 2016
You had to root for the guy, if you weren’t on his side before, you must be now. It was like watching a kid in a candy store.
The fun didn’t stop there.
Fast-forward to Sunday night. This was his time to shine, the time to show everyone that he wanted to be there.
And he did just that.
Not even a minute into the game, and the man everyone wanted to see score, did just that. He capped it off with a celebration that proved despite being a meaningless game, he was having fun, and that’s what mattered.
That was it. The guy who had five goals in 8 NHL seasons just scored two alongside the most elite talent in the world. That’s something that is unforgettable.
Of course, the star of the night wasn’t done yet, he even gave us a taste of what he’s best at, and “dropped the gloves” with Blackhawks star, Patrick Kane, after he scored a goal.
But there was just one more thing.
That “MVP! MVP! MVP!” chant I mentioned at the beginning of this story.
Of course, Bridgestone Arena weren’t the only people pulling for Scott to drive away in a new car, despite not even being a choice on the MVP ballot.
Of course he has our vote: #VoteMVPScott
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 1, 2016
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 1, 2016
Just give it to him. #VoteMVPScott
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 1, 2016
That’s right, John Scott, your 2016 NHL All-Star Game MVP.
There couldn’t have possibly been a better ending to a story that started out so sour and raw.
The truth of the matter is, John Scott’s career may suffer because of the trade that was involved in this whole ordeal. That’s why businessmen and women run teams and the NHL’s front office. To maximize the amount of money the league brings in regardless of morals, and Scott fell victim to that in the worst way possible.
But if he showed us anything throughout this whole debacle, it’s that hockey is more than just a game.
This story gave everyone something to rally behind, a reason to finally be excited about watching an All-Star game.
It’s more than cash, numbers, and bodies who run around on the ice looking to fill the seats. The fans and the players who are on the ice truly do love the game for more than what it is. Hockey is meant to be a fun game filled with emotions, and that’s what this game turned out to be.
It was truly a surreal event to watch unfold and the smile plastered on John Scott’s face all weekend was more than enough proof to back that up.
Matt is a contributor for the Philadelphia Flyers at The Hockey Writers. He has previously covered the Flyers for GrandstandU. He enjoys playing hockey and making music in his spare time.