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A Look At the Whole John Scott Thing

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As part of this slate of All-Star material, I'm going to express my thoughts on each development the bizarre story of All-Star Captain John Scott has taken.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

By now, most, if not all, of you know that now-Montreal Canadiens winger John Scott has been voted to participate this month's All-Star Game. This isn't the first time we've had a campaign to vote someone into the All-Star who is out of his league among the rest of the roster, but it's definitely more extreme an example than each previous time this has happened.

Background

John Scott is a hybrid winger/defenceman in the NHL. At 6'8" and 260 lbs., he is easily one of the largest players in the NHL. This positional versatility and massive size works precisely 0% to his, or anyone else's, advantage, as he is a slow player with no puck-moving or defensive skill, let alone goal-scoring or playmaking ability. Despite this lack of skill, he has been a continued presence in the NHL, with seven different NHL teams paying him to play in their organization. Last season, with the San Jose Sharks, he scored an uncharacteristically highlight-calibre goal, one of a career-high of three, leading to everyone calling him a sniper.

This season, despite him playing only six games prior to the start of the All-Star vote, and only five since, with only one assist in that time, he blasted to the top of the voting leaderboards. When the voting period ended, the rest of the roster, with no unusual additions, even among the other fan-voted captains, to the roster aside from Scott. While Scott had initially appealed to fans to vote a more fitting teammate, to no avail, and he ultimately decided to embrace it, even as both the Coyotes organization and the NHL itself tried to get him to drop out.

Scott was traded on Friday, January 15, to the Montreal Canadiens as part of an underwhelming three-way deal and immediately sent to their AHL farm club, the St. John's IceCaps. It was completely unprecedented situation, as while he wasn't the first player to be traded to another team after being voted to an All-Star Game, he was the first to be subsequently demoted to the minors. Despite being in limbo for days, in which people were unafraid to spew verbal venom at the NHL (or in the case of Don Cherry, at the fans, because it's really our fault), Scott was eventually confirmed to still be on the All-Star roster, which takes us to where things are now.

With that history lesson out of the way, let's see what I think of all this.

Thoughts on the vote

I didn't like the vote for John Scott. If you can't tell from me having an entire All-Star stream on this site, I am one of those in favour of the All-Star Game. I like the idea of a bunch of the NHL's best players getting together, and believe it's worth keeping around just for that, but even I admit the game is a total snooze-fest with no competition. As much as I want more scoring in the regular NHL, the All-Star Game shows that it can be overdone, with no physicality and defence making the game all the more boring, all in a game with no lasting impact. Many NHL fans believe that the All-Star game is no longer worth having around on that basis. The vote for John Scott this season is more to highlight that feeling than it is out of any desire to see Scott to participate or belief that he's deserving. It's a joke, to get across that people think the All-Star Game is a joke, and Scott himself is the punchline. I think it's stupid that people voted him in, and think it's nothing but revisionist history if anyone tries to tell you the votes he got were for any reason other than to mock the All-Star Game.

On John Scott's being named an All-Star

To put it bluntly, I am against Scott being in the All-Star. Actions such as his pursuing of Phil Kessel for a fight during a preseason game in 2013, and his illegal check on Loui Eriksson later that same year, have left me not particularly enamoured with Scott as a player. Add to that my somewhat recent souring on the presence of fighting and enforcers in the NHL, and his complete lack of skill and icetime, and I personally hate the idea of Scott being in the game. I didn't participate in this season's ballot-stuffing campaign despite doing so last season. Which brings me to my next point.

Comparisons to past ballot-stuffs

One of the things I found in several instances during the month of December in articles talking about the John Scott voting campaign were comparisons to past voting campaigns. I don't think those comparisons fit. I will go over each one to explain why.

In 2007, it was the first All-Star Game after the lockout, and the first one to drop the mail-in ballots in favour of online voting. For whatever reason, one fan decided to vote for defenceman Rory Fitzpatrick to participate. He ultimately didn't make the cut, but finished third in defenceman voting behind titans Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. A similar thing occurred in 2009, when Mike Komisarek was voted for among four other members of the Montreal Canadiens. These are easily the closest things to a 1:1 comparison with the John Scott situation, but are still stretches. Komisarek played 66 games in 2008/09, missing 16 only due to injury while averaging over 20 minutes per night; and Fitzpatrick, while a healthy scratch for a large chunk of the season, still played 58 games in 2006/07. Neither were good players by any stretch of the imagination, but both were serviceable enough, even if just in the eyes of coaches and GMs, to be in the lineup for the majority of a season. 2013/14 was only the second time Scott had played 50 or more games, and his 11 this season are the lowest he's played in a single season.

In 2009, 2012, and 2015, fans took to stuffing the ballots with players from the same team. In 2009, as mentioned above, four members of the Canadiens were voted in. In 2012, it was four members of the Ottawa Senators. In 2015, it was five members of the Chicago Blackhawks. In the cases of 2012 and 2015, while at least one player voted into each game with the fan vote could be considered not All-Star calibre, it can be agreed on that they're good, or at least were in those respective seasons.

As well all know, in 2015, another ballot-stuffing campaign was directed towards a single player. Zemgus Girgensons, who went on to finish the season with 15 goals and 30 points in 61 games, led all players in votes. Now, there's a reason why I'm bringing all this up. In most of these cases, when fans, encouraged by the ludicrous number of ballots they're allowed to send, and the speed with which they can send it, stuffed the ballot in favour of a dubious addition, that player would often be good enough (in the case of Milan Michalek, Brent Seabrook, and Zemgus Girgensons) that their sudden popularity would be enough to consider them stars. If nothing else, they'd be regular enough fixtures in the lineup. As I've said, none of this applies to John Scott, so I don't think name-dropping Zemgus Girgensons, or even Rory Fitzpatrick, is a good enough justification for voting in John Scott.

Now that's he's definitely playing

So the tone here has been overwhelmingly negative. Scott isn't a good player, I don't think he should be here, I don't think he makes the game any more worth watching than it already is, and I don't even believe he's comparable to other non-stars that have been voted in since the advent of online balloting. Despite all of that, I'm glad that John Scott ended up getting his spot in anyway. The thing is, it doesn't matter what I want personally. It doesn't matter what the NHL or the Arizona Coyotes want. Fans were given the opportunity to vote for their All-Star captains. They were given the ability to send ten ballots per day. They were given no restrictions whatsoever on who they could vote for. Given those parameters, they voted for who they wanted to participate. The reasons why are irrelevant at the end of the day. Is it a deal breaker either way? No it isn't. Many people skip the All-Star Game, and I myself probably won't be able to watch, but I still think it's important that Scott is playing. The NHL hasn't had a great relationship with fans or players in recent years, and I think it would have been scummy for the NHL to go against fan wishes and deny Scott, a low-paid player who'd never get the opportunity under normal conditions to get the All-Star treatment, the opportunity he got without concrete reason to do so besides them not wanting him there.

Who will represent the Arizona Coyotes?

While this story has had a sort of happy ending, I think there's an issue that needs addressing. Who will represent the Arizona Coyotes? Technically he will represent the Coyotes as the captain of the Pacific Division, but does that fully count? There's some precedent for this part of the Scott situation. Bernie Nicholls was named to participate in the 1990 All-Star Game as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, but was traded before the game to the New York Rangers. Ultimately, he was with the Campbell Conference as a King, but which team he was on was of little consequence, even by All-Star Game standards, as both Los Angeles and New York had other representatives (Brian Leetch for the Rangers; Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, and Steve Duchesne for the Kings) that year. Scott was the only Coyote to be named to the All-Star Game, despite the switch to a four-team divisional mini-tournament offering the perfect opportunity to expand the number of All-Stars participating. They could patch a Coyote head on Scott's shoulder, but he's a member of the Montreal Canadiens organization, so he would only technically be a Coyotes representative. If I had anything to do in response to this string of developments, I would add an additional player to the All-Star roster, simply so that the Coyotes can be represented by someone who is actually a member of the organization now.

As much as I disagree with Scott ever having been considered for the All-Star Game, and think his trade means an extra spot should be added to fit a current Coyote in the game, I think it's good that the NHL stayed true to the unwritten agreements it made by allowing this situation to happen.

If you haven't read it, here's Scott's column for The Players' Tribune: A Guy Like Me. It's a must-read.