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The problem with John Scott

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Much to the chagrin of certain people, John Scott was voted to the All Star Game as a captain. This is not news. Today it broke via Bob McKenzie on twitter that John Scott would be traded to Montreal with Stefan Elliot for Tinordi. The result of this trade (and the Canadiens subsequent refusal to recall Scott from their AHL squad) would be that John Scott will likely no longer be eligible for the All Star Game.

It came out later, also via McKenzie, that both the Arizona Coyotes and the NHL itself had asked Scott to step down, but he refused (as was his right). Scott initially asked fans not to vote for him, but fans did not listen and Scott was elected via the fan vote; a mechanism instituted by the league.

Ire has been rightly directed at the league; this sends all kinds of messages, and none of them good. John Scott is being told by the league- and his (former?) team that he is meaningless to them; just a pawn. Fans are being told that their opinion doesn't matter (even if their opinion was wrong, but more on that later). Players abroad are being told that if the league doesn't think they can make enough money off of you, you will not be given the same opportunities as a big-name star.

In short: it's a mess, and it's a mess of the NHL's own making. Like Frankenstein being killed by his monster, the NHL is reaping the seeds it has sown by creating an All Star Game that no one, including NHL diehard fans, particularly care about. The highlight last year was Alex Ovechkin asking to be drafted last in order to donate his gift to charity. The other highlight was tracking equipment that has since disappeared.

To make matters worse, John Scott and his family are soon expecting twins, and will now likely need to move to Montreal, where they may or may not know the predominant language of French. Their other alternative is to move into a temporary housing situation, which could work out well (just ask Dubnyk) or they could end up living out of a hotel, like Matt Moulson.

And, as much bile and fury is being directed (rightly) at the league for this travesty.... they are not solely the culprits here.

This whole mess, it's true, was made possible by the league. Gary Bettman and co. set up the mouse trap, but they did not hit the button on it, at least not at first. No, the initial problem here was caused by us; the fans.

You may have read the inimitable Sean McIndoe's piece on this some time ago, but the idea initially in voting John Scott was not "Oh, John Scott's a great guy, with a good family, he deserves this." The initial thought was "who is the worst player we can think of, let's vote him into the ASG." Had fans not decided to go down this path, the NHL would have no "problem" to solve. Mr. McIndoe says it best:

True, the all-star game is a joke, and has been for years. The players don’t try, the game doesn’t look anything like real hockey, the scores are ridiculous and nobody cares. It’s quite possible that nobody has beat that drum more often than I have over the years, so sure, no argument there.

And so it should follow that if you’re going to open fan voting to anyone, the fans should be able to pick whoever they want. Stuff the ballot box for the home team, give the sentimental favorite one last trip, pick the guy with the funniest twitter campaign, you name it. It’s all in good fun, so fill your boots.

But here’s the thing with John Scott: The whole campaign wasn’t all in good fun. This wasn’t a case of fans rising up to elect a popular grinder, a sort-of Brad Marsh selection for the new generation. Scott seems like a nice enough guy, if you can ignore the occasional incident like this, but even in a league where fans typically idolize tough guys, he's never been especially popular outside of whatever market he was playing in. This wasn't about doing something nice for John Scott.

I'll stop here to say again- the NHL's actions are reprehensible. There is no defending them. The NHL is a bunch of stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herders. Even so; fans are not completely blameless. The NHL constructed the weapon and fired it, but the fans loaded it and should share some of the blame for this preposterous situation as well.

Incidentally, it is worth noting that John Scott is not having the worst season of all players who were voted to/involved in the ASG. That honor would go to Pekka Rinne before Mr. Scott, as Garret Hohl points out on twitter:

Ultimately, the NHL should be ashamed of itself. But it would perhaps not be the worst thing in the world for fans to make some apology to John Scott for setting the NHL up to do this to him, particularly after he asked them not to. The fans set out to show the NHL how stupid the ASG was. Shockingly, the NHL ignored them and instead of fixing their issues is punishing someone else.