In the matter of a weekend, John Scott underwent the most unlikliest of transformations, from despised pugilist to sympathized hockey player to revered folk hero.
Even Scott commented in his post-game press conference, “You can’t make this stuff up.” And he was right. It went way beyond the likes of “Rudy.” Eat your heart out, Disney.
Many saw the nomination of the 6’ 8” journeyman enforcer Scott to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game to be a joke. That he’d be an embarrassment to the game and be lost among the toe-dragging, highlight-film-making “real” All-Stars. Boy, were they wrong.
The captain of the Pacific Division champions and Most Valuable Player was the highlight of the weekend. He scored two goals in the Pacific Division’s first game against the Central and kept fans on the edge of their seats every time he took the ice. He also used his size to his advantage, getting credit for just the second hit in an All-Star Game since 2003, when he knocked down former Chicago teammate Patrick Kane. On the ensuing play, Kane scored and immediately dropped his gloves for a battle with Scott that was met with roaring applause.
Scott’s first goal came less than a minute into the Pacific Division’s first game. While the arena erupted, he celebrated like a boss, going to one knee and pumping his arm around like a windmill.
The second of his goals was a beauty as former Sharks’ teammate Brent Burns hit him with a stretch pass for a breakaway. Scott went top shelf on Devan Dubnyk.
In the other game, the Atlantic defeated the Metropolitan 4-3 to advance to the final. The Sabres’ Ryan O’Reilly assisted Aaron Ekblad’s goal, his lone marker on the score sheet.
The Pacific beat the Atlantic Division in the final game, 1-0 with Corey Perry scoring the lone goal.
“I loved it. It was the coolest thing I’ve done in hockey for sure. It still hasn’t really sunk in. It’s … probably one of the better weekends of my life.” –John Scott
One of the many highlights of the game actually came with Scott on the bench. During an in-game interview with NBCSN’s Jeremy Roenick, one of many outspoken pundits not wanting Scott being a part of the game, he ate crow and apologized to Scott.
Scott’s nonchalant reply, “It’s not the first time you’ve been wrong. I’m going for the Gordie Howe hat trick right now!”
Fans and fellow players in Nashville showered Scott with love all night, and Scott responded in kind, giving thanks to the fans, overwhelmed and delighted by the hoopla.
Scott did not disappoint in the skills competition, either. His graceful spin-o-rama was stopped in the shootout. And he registered a more than respectable 95.8 mph slapshot in the hardest shot competition.
No matter what some NHL curmudgeon tried to tell Scott about his family last week, his little girls will be proud of dad when they’re old enough to watch this game. Scott’s wife, Danielle, 37-weeks pregnant with twins, and his two girls were cheering on him on throughout the weekend.
“It’s just so nice for people to see who he is. He has been portrayed in the media for so long as this nasty guy. And, he really isn’t.” –Danielle Scott, John Scott’s wife
During his post-championship interview with Pierre McGuire as the captain of the winning team, Scott’s teammates hoisted all 260 pounds of him into the air in celebration. It was a special moment.
Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr, a 13-time NHL All-Star forward, whose Atlantic Division team lost to Scott’s Pacific Division squad 1-0 added, “You hate to lose, but if I ever wanted to lose, ever, I’m glad I lost today.”
From start to finish, this was one of the most unbelievable stories the NHL has ever seen. In the end, Scott earned a cut of the million dollar winner’s prize, a new car to drive his growing family around in, and more importantly, a newfound respect from fans around the world.