John Scott Trade is a Punch in the Face for NHL Fans

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John Scott [PuckJunk.com photo illustration]

When I started watching hockey as a kid, I latched onto the Chicago Blackhawks because I lived in Chicago, and that made sense to me. My younger sister decided that she was going to be a Pittsburgh Penguins fan because she was 11 years old and liked penguins. That sounded silly to me as a kid, but now I wouldn’t judge.

People decide to become fans of teams for different reasons. Likewise, our reasons for liking certain athletes are varied, too. As a kid, I looked up to Dirk Graham because he was a hard-working player, and would have loved to have seen him play in an NHL All-Star Game. And even though he won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward, he was never selected for an All-Star Game. If he ever was, it would probably have been at the expense of a more offensively-gifted player. But who cares? Graham was my guy, and I wanted to see him succeed.

Fans should be allowed to like what sport, league, team or player they choose, for whatever reasons they wish. That said, no matter why fans voted for John Scott to be in the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, the NHL owes it to both the fans and to Scott to honor their end of the deal  — regardless of whether Scott participates as a member of the Arizona Coyotes, the Montreal Canadiens, the St. John’s IceCaps or  the Tallahassee Warthogs.

The NHL encouraged fans to vote for four All-Star captains. The fans chose Scott to be the captain of the Pacific Division. Who cares if it is because they like him as a person, or think it would be hilarious to see a big, slow enforcer in a 3-on-3 All-Star Game, or because they liked the color of his skate laces, which FYI are white. None of that matters.

What matters is, Scott is who the fans voted for, and Scott wants to play.

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Obviously, the NHL is embarrassed. They wanted the Westminster Dog Show, and a mutt was voted into the spotlight. The NHL never disclosed how many votes Scott received, but stated that he “paced the Pacific” in voting, which sounds less impressive than “won by a landslide.” Now the NHL was in what they perceived to be a mess.

Thus, the Coyotes traded Scott on Friday afternoon, at a time that would draw less media scrutiny than, say, a Monday morning. You can bet the NHL expedited that trade’s approval, too. Coyotes GM Don Maloney stated that he had to move Scott because of financial reasons. But Scott’s $575,000 annual salary shouldn’t be too hard to make room for on a team with $10 million in salary cap space.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that both the NHL and the Arizona Coyotes asked Scott to forego his participation in All-Star weekend. Scott declined, stating that he wanted to participate. McKenzie also stated that while Montreal reportedly had no desire to acquire Scott in the three-way trade that also involved the Nashville Predators, Arizona insisted that they take the enforcer in the deal.

So, the Canadiens did, and then buried him in the minors.

And the NHL will come up with some bogus reason that Scott is now ineligible to play in the All-Star Game.

Perhaps even more insulting is that the NHL told Scott that the league would pay for he and his family to go to the All-Star Game as spectators. Maybe if he behaves they’ll treat him to a garbage bag full of popcorn, too.

Scott was punished for wanting to play in what would be the game of his lifetime, to give his two young children the chance to meet the NHL’s best players and to compete for a share of the $1 million prize that the winning team would split.

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

Let us also not forget that fighting is still a part of the NHL. According to HockeyFights.com, Scott’s fighting record in regular season NHL games is 32 wins, five losses and one draw from 2008-09 to 2015-16. There are few players that would be willing to go with the 6’8″ Scott, and even fewer who would stand a chance.

Obviously, fighting is not a part of the All-Star Game. But neither is hitting or playing defense, as goalies get lit up more times than a menorah. Yet, defenseman and goalies are in the All-Star Game every year, despite their minimal contributions in it.

Scott’s trade was a vindictive move by the Coyotes, but it also tells the fans where they stand with the NHL. Neither the Coyotes nor the league respected their wishes, because what the fans want — who they choose to vote for or to root for — really does not matter. That shot from the league hurts more than a John Scott haymaker punch. ■

Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

19 thoughts on “John Scott Trade is a Punch in the Face for NHL Fans”

  1. The last time I checked, the whole purpose of the All Star Game is a thank you to the fan by giving them a show. The Skills competition is fun but the game they play isn’t NHL Hockey, and most people are bored with it; by the end of this year’s ASG, they’ll be tired of the 3-on-3. And what’s $1M split between these guys? I’m gonna call it now that the winning Captain is going to donate the money to charity.

    The fans want players with personally at this event and many star players have a great personality. I hate Ovichkin 82 games out of the year, but the man is a (drunken) hoot on All Star Weekend! Scott has a fun personality too, and fans want that humor on display, much the way they wanted BizNasty a few years ago.

    Good article Sal, the NHL has really shown their ass and proven that they really don’t care what the fans think or want to honor their wishes in the slightest. This is just going to be another money grab for them, and the ASG should be put to bed for at least a few years, if not permenately. Vets don’t really want to be there, fans won’t watch on TV. Push the World Cup more and have it in various and varying cities every summer instead.

    1. The ASG has almost nothing to do with the fans and everything to do with the league’s and host team’s corporate sponsors. It’s a marketing venture and opportunity to let those people rub elbows with the superstar players.

  2. Great article! Huge fan of Dirk Graham growing up as well – also a big John Scott fan…..this is a terrible sham. Stupid NHL. I hope it works itself out & he gets to play – but the damage is still done. I’ve lost a lot of respect for the NHL.

    1. Thank you for reading, Alana. Graham was a cool player to watch — scrappy and tough. People always said that Graham was greater than the sum of his abilities.

      As for Scott, the NHL has done him wrong and all the NHL fans, regardless of whether they voted for Scott or not.

    1. Doesn’t matter if it was fans or “fans” that voted for Scott. Bottom line is, he won. You were welcome to vote against him.

  3. Thought hockey was the last genuine sport out there- guess not. The NHL is showing that they too, are just as hypocritical and pretentious as the other professional sports leagues. They chose the low road, are sucking the fun out of the ASG and disrespecting both their players and their fans.
    And as far as Scott’s abilities as a player, the last time I checked just making it into the “big leagues” shows remarkable talent.
    Cricket, anyone?

  4. Agree he was robbed and wronged by the Bettman regime but, this whole kickstarter ballot stuffing campaign that got him there was a bjt short sighted. NHL will change the fan vote rules im guessing now.

    1. They can and will change the rules, but that is beside the point. Scott won fair and square with the current rules and they have no choice but to suck it up and let him go, or they are saying rules don’t matter. They can’t wish him away and if this trade changes anything, they might want to put Domi or someone in as a consolation pick for Arizona, who will now be left out. But they can’t keep out of one man who got more votes than anyone else. That would be far more embarrassing than having Scott there. Sure, make someone else captain. Sure, don’t force him to do too much in the game or skills competition. One thing though, is the only possible reason I might watch the game at all this year is if Scott is in. If he’s left out, I’ll never watch another all-star game

  5. Great article. This is yet another instance of the NHL leadership ignoring what the fanbase wants. For me this wasn’t about Scott being a joke candidate or not. Sure I get how it’s hilarious that a guy who has spent as much time in the press box as on the ice this year gets in off fan votes, but it’s what the fans voted for. I think the huge factor here that is ignored is what Jim pointed to where fans want to see his colourful personality on display. This is a guy who isn’t playing for a multi-million dollar paycheck like Sid of Ovie or Geno, but rather because he makes a comfortable living, he loves playing and he is having fun. I voted for him for this reason as I think this sort of attitude is what will save the ASG. Frankly we should all be so lucky to have such an attitude towards our careers. The NHL and Yote’s treatment of him over this is disappointing and I am embarrassed to be a fan of NHL hockey over this. You were right on the money with the popcorn.

    And for the record, I grew up a Pens fan myself – not because I liked Penguins, but I couldn’t think of a better reason!

    1. Look at Don Cherry’s comments….people like you that voted for John Scott made a mockery of the process and your vote forced 4 families to have to uplift their families and move. This is like voting for that guy on Amercian Idol that couldn’t sing. The NHL did this man an injustice but fake fans like you forced the hand they felt they had to play. Yes F..k the NHL and F..k fans like you that hurt these families. John Scott is a position player and although I respect him as a man he is not an All-Star caliber player. Wishing you luck John Scott that these so called fans have not ended your NHL career.

  6. I think that it’s a shame that the process of voting in players has been dragged down to the point where a fringe NHL enforcer gets the most votes. I have no doubt that the NHL will look at ways to clamp down on how fans vote in the future.

    Bottom line….John Scott does not deserve to be at the All-Star game. It’s the small group of people who thought it would be a fun goof to vote him in, and likely got numerous votes from people who don’t even watch hockey. The way that this has snowballed and now resulted in a three-way trade just makes things worse for a number of individuals.

    It’s amazing to see that people (I won’t even call them fans) have made a mockery out of an event already looked at as a mockery. Congratulations.

  7. Good article kiddo.
    The only thing I think you meant to say was my extremely insightful sister became a Penguins fan and got to enjoy them winning 2 Stanley cups, one of them while beating my team, when we were younger. And maybe I should have listen to my little sister back then.
    But other than that, I think it was well written.

  8. Great article Sal. At the end of the day, the NHL All Star game is simply an exhibition game for hockey fans. Nothing more. There is no moral high compass or minimal standards of what type of hockey player gets to play in the game. It’s a game for the fans. If the fans wants to include players who will add some entertainment value, let them. Long gone are the days when the game meant something, especially to the players. The past 25+ years the NHL All Star game is just a glorified non-contact shiny game. And this year three on three hockey??? Also how many times has players backed out of playing in the All Star game? Are there ramifications if the player backs out? Aren’t they likewise making a mockery of the game?
    Lastly – mentioning Dirk Graham and the fact that he did not play in an All Star game reminded me of something. Bob Gainey, regarded as the best 2 way player during the 1970’s was never selected to play in an All Star game. And that was during the era when the players actually made an effort during the game.

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