This is the second installment in a mini-series that takes a closer look at John Scott’s inclusion in the 2016 NHL All-Star game.
It’s tough to imagine how sniper John Scott could one-up his highlight-laden career consisting of five goals, six assists and 542 penalty minutes, but last week he undoubtedly scored one of the most impressive accomplishments of all time. The Arizona Coyotes’ giant can now add the title “All-Star Game Captain” to his decorated stat sheet of honors.
As much as Scott’s stats scream “All-Star,” even he didn’t see this coming. The intimidating presence has already been waived three times this season by the Coyotes.
“I thought they were just inviting me to the game, but turns out, they actually want me to play in the game,” said an utterly baffled Scott.
A grassroots internet movement put the man better known for his punishing fists than his puck-handling skills atop the vote-getting leaderboard. Now the legend with be suiting up as the Pacific Division captain, alongside Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers (Atlantic Division), Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks (Central Division) and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (Metropolitan Division).
“Fans want him in; it’s that simple,” said NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman. “John has no earthly business being in the All-Star game. Yes, he has impressive size and a 23-foot wingspan, but the bottom line… he has questionable skill. Look, the dude’s like five times my size… what am I gonna do… tell him he can’t play? He’d kill me.” Bettman then suddenly realized that he spoke those words aloud in front of a microphone. His jaw nearly hit the floor as he envisioned Scott hunting him down and beat him into a senseless pulp.
This season, the pugilist has played a total of a little over 69 minutes –about as much as Ryan O’Reilly plays over three games– and has one assist and 25 penalty minutes to show for it.
-PREPPING FOR THE BIG GAME-
With the six-foot-nine, 270-pound Scott on the ice, don’t expect the other teams to run their mouths or take liberties. The giant, with 38 regular season fighting majors to his credit, is expected to patrol the ice, bringing an element of security to his fellow teammates. That is, if he can ever catch up to them.
Scott is taking the All-Star honor very seriously. In preparation for the skill-laden event, he has skipped the weight room and has focused on a more natural routine. Similar to how Rocky Balboa trained for his bout with Ivan Drago, Scott has been living in the wilderness, wrestling with wild animals and catching food with his bare hands. He’s the fittest he’s ever been in his life.
-A JOKE OR AN ALL-STAR?-
Critics of Scott’s inclusion to the All-Star weekend call it a “joke” and “disruptive to the process.” But just wait until he picks up a loose rebound, skates the length of the ice, dekes, dangles, toe-trags and then flips it by a sprawling goalie into the back of the net. Okay, that’ll never happen.
Many of Scott’s contributions don’t show up on stat sheets. For example, he has a sick dump-in. And to round out his game, he’s also been working on chip ins. Especially into the corners.
It’s ironic that it’s taken one of the game’s last true enforcers, a fading role in the league, to give life to another dying brand–the All-Star Game. Like Steve Harvey and the Miss Universe pageant, the event is suddenly rich with publicity and discussion.
While the 33-year-old heavyweight will be making his debut at the event, another veteran wasn’t shy about NOT wanting to return to it. Jagr playfully asked fans not to vote for him with a series of tweets. “I asked the fans don’t vote for me; they didn’t listen. They want to see me dead,” Jagr told Fox Sports.
This year’s re-invented 3-on-3, winner-take-all, division-based tournament format was created to highlight and emphasize the incredible skill, speed and athleticism it takes to play our game. Scott is wildly deficient in all of these.
Each of the league’s four divisions is represented by an 11-player roster: six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. Games will be 20 minutes. The Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions will play in one semifinal; the Central and Pacific Divisions in the other. The winners meet in the championship game for a prize pool of $1 million to be paid to the victor. While chump change for most All-Stars, it would more than double Scott’s yearly salary.
The All-Star Skills Competition in Nashville will begin at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 30. The All-Star Game will start at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 31. Scott will be ready, will you?
Disclaimer: Most of this story is actually true.