On Friday, the Arizona Coyotes traded John Scott to the Montreal Canadiens in a multi-player, three-team deal. Coyotes GM Don Maloney and Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin were quick to point out that the move had nothing to do with the All-Star Game.
You’ll recall that the rarely-used enforcer — who has been waived twice this season — was voted by fans as the captain of the Pacific Division’s All-Star Team.
Yet the Habs acquired Scott and sent him directly to the AHL. This calls Scott’s eligibility into question, as a player in the AHL isn’t allowed to play in the All-Star Game. He also would be captaining the Pacfic Division team while playing in the Atlantic Division. Though, let’s be honest, this is a meaningless game, so getting that technical seems a little silly.
The NHL has not yet made a statement on whether or not they’ll allow Scott to play despite the singular circumstances surrounding his situation.
Yet TSN’s Bob McKenzie added an interesting wrinkle to the situation when he tweeted out that Scott was asked to bow out of the All-Star voting. “John Scott was previously asked by both NHL and Arizona Coyotes to bow out of NHL All-Star Game. He refused.”
Further complicating that, McKenzie said on TSN 1050, “I think [Scott] feels like there’s no question in his mind—and I, really, it strains the levels of credulity to think otherwise—his inclusion in this trade, in my mind, was absolutely orchestrated to solve the All-Star issue for the league.”
If that’s the case, this seems cold. The NHL would have contributed to having a man move across the continent while expecting twins at home because fans confounded their marketing plans for the All-Star Game.
Scott isn’t to blame here. He found himself a part of a joke — whether it was good-natured or not — and took the whole ordeal in good humor and chose to play along. He smiled, said he’s enjoyed the joke to whatever extent, smiled for the NHL’s cameras and said that he’s honored and wants to give it his all.
Despite having said that the trade has nothing to do with the All-Star Game, Maloney has taken to lobbying for a different player getting into the game pretty quickly. Craig Morgan of AZ Sports says Maloney’s “expectation is the NHL will choose a Coyotes forward to replace John Scott at AS Game. Domi, Doan both make sense.”
Scott took a situation that was created by the league and helped put a positive spin on it, even if he wasn’t willing to shovel it under the rug for the league. If there was any aspect of the trade that was “orchestrated” to solve the problem of Scott being in the game, it’s ugly. If this is the result the league wanted, then they should have stepped up to the plate earlier and simply said that they’re changing the rules. The worst case scenario from a PR perspective there isn’t that big.
They shouldn’t punish John Scott because their plan failed. They said, Hey fans, come to our site and participate in the process. You can vote for anyone you want. Anyone at all. Fans did. You can think fans are idiots or only idiots vote or whatever you want, but the marketing professionals at the NHL are not idiots. They had to know that this was a possibility. It’s a situation of their own creation.
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Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.