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Scott debacle haunts NHL

John Scott. You’ve probably heard that name floating around a couple times this past week. But if not, I’ll fill you in. If you follow the NHL in any capacity, you probably know about the league picking the roster for the NHL All-Star Game this year and allowing only the selection of the captains up to the fans. John Scott was a forward for the Arizona Coyotes. He’s also an Edmontonian who was forced to move to St. Catherines, Ontario after the 1987 Black Friday tornado nearly took his life. The dude has been around the league for about eight seasons playing for different teams (Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres) and going down to the minors more than a couple times during that span. He’s like the newest Paul Bissonnette. The guy isn’t known for scoring – he’s a goon – but he is definitely a character in the room, which had transformed into quite the fan following.

To put it into perspective, Scott has just 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 285 NHL games. Heck, he only has one assist so far this season but gets a vote to go to the All-Star game, c’mon! Any of his Arizona teammates would have been more deserving to go – Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Max Domi, Shane Doan or Mikkel Boedker would make better candidates. I guess it doesn’t matter, since this is the only time fans get to choose their captain.

But a series of trades over the weekend meant another turn in this debacle. It began with the Coyotes sending Scott down to their AHL team, which would technically disqualify him from playing in the All-Star game. There were rumours that it was because Scott had refused to bow out of the game and the Coyotes traded him to the Montreal Canadiens only to have the Habs send him down to their farm team (the IceCaps) in St. John’s, Newfoundland, which is basically, the opposite of living in Arizona. He then was a healthy scratch in their first game, to give him “a time for him to wind down a bit,” according to his coach.

Had the guy simply said he was grateful for the outpouring of fan support he was receiving but that he wasn’t worthy of making the NHL All-Star roster, perhaps even the fans that voted him into captaincy would respect his decision. His world wouldn’t be flipped and he wouldn’t be sitting in a hotel room in St. John’s. But the league has yet to give Scott a definite answer regarding his status in the game, and has released a statement saying that “the league is evaluating how the trade impacts the Pacific Division roster for the 2016 All-Star Game.”

Still evaluating? What more do they need to evaluate? His moustache? Please. If the league is making the decisions on the rosters of the All-Star game anyway, they may as well just make the last definitive call on what Scott’s case is and give him and his family some peace of mind. Scott’s mother-in-law even spoke out about this, saying that there was nothing he could have done to change anything about the All-Star game and yet he was on the losing end of it, and it puts his NHL career in limbo.

All in all, the fans and the league are at war right now, mainly because the league couldn’t make up its mind about what it wanted to do in the first place. Either give fans all the control or none at all and be willing to accept their choice or not. If they’re worried about tarnishing their fragile reputation, then don’t worry about the fan base altogether and vote the rosters and the captains and see where that takes them.

Tuesday, the league finally announced that Scott will continue to serve as captain of the Pacific Division, much to the delight of the fans, who so wanted him in the game. So John Scott will be in the 2016 NHL All-Star game after all. #FreedJohnScott.

Bridgette Tsang, Sports Editor

Image: Give Me Sport

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