NHL All-Star voting, like other sports, many times comes under fire because the best performers don’t always get in. Well, welcome to NHL All-Star voting 2016, but this time that cliche controversy escalated when NHL boss Gary Bettman stepped in and tried to stop a popular player from getting in.
Enforcer John Scott was voted in as a start by fans in a scenario that started out as a joke. The “joke” went viral in social media and BOOM! We had ourselves a guy with a career total of only five goals over nine seasons (285 games) lining up to start.
So after being named Pacific Division captain, Scott was suddenly traded from Phoenix to Montreal, a team that then immediately demoted him to their minor league AHL team — a move many thought was made to end his NHL career.
Reminded us of ancient times when NHL union organizer, Hall of Fame and Red Wing great, Ted Lindsay, was dumped off to the struggling Chicago Blackhawks after he fought to form the player’s union.
The Scott dumping set off an obvious rash of theories that the Coyotes and Canadians conspired to make Scott ineligible to play in the All-Star game.
Only after an onslaught of pressure through social media, did Bettman bow down to the fans and announce that Scott could play in Nashville this weekend.
This incident backfired on Bettman!
Instead of burying a player more known for his fists than putting on the red light, the 33-year-old journeyman become hero among all sports’ fans. In fact, his All-Star shirt sold out at the NHL store.
But the coolest thing about this incident is how Scott exposed Bettman and the NHL . . .
Scott wrote this in a column for The Player’s Tribune:
From The Player’s Tribune:
I’m not some random person off the street, and I didn’t win a golden ticket to “play hockey with the stars.” I won an internet fan vote, sure. And at some point, without question, it was a joke. It might even finish as a joke. But it didn’t start as one. It started with a very small pool, out of a very small pool, out of the very, very smallest pool of hockey players in the world: NHLers.
That was the vote. A fan vote, an internet vote — but a vote from among the 700 or so best hockey players in North American professional sports.
And I’m one of them.
If the league thought this was an embarrassment, pretty much all of the players I’ve encountered have thought otherwise. I’ve gotten texts from so many guys saying the same thing: “You should go.”
And that didn’t happen because of the internet. I busted my ass to be one of them. I’ve skated every day since I was three years old to be one of them. I’ve persevered through Juniors roster cuts, Alaskan bus rides, Advanced Dynamics exams, and — yes — fights, to be one of them.
But I’m one of them. And that means a lot to me.
It means a lot to my family.
So when someone from the NHL calls me and says, “Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?”
… That’s when they lost me.
Scott added, “Because, while I may not deserve to be an NHL All-Star, I know I deserve to be the judge of what my kids will — and won’t — be proud of me for.”
NHL politics got bent over hard on this fiasco.
We expect that Bettman opened a can of worms on this one and expect next season to bring on another vote for the least likely candidate to don an All-Star jersey.