Tough guy John Scott, who was elected to the NHL’s All-Star game as a snarky joke but handled a potentially awkward situation with uncommon grace, gave some insight to the Players’ Tribune website into what happened and how the NHL tried to discourage him from accepting the All-Star honor.
Scott was elected the captain of the Pacific Division team and was asked by both the NHL and the Arizona Coyotes to withdraw from the game. He declined. Soon afterward, he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, who promptly sent him to their minor league team in Newfoundland.
That cast doubt over whether he would be able to play in the All-Star game, which will be held Sunday in Nashville, and fans reacted negatively to any effort to exclude him. Finally, the NHL announced he will participate, and good for him.
His account of events shows how badly the NHL bungled what could have been a feel-good story about a journeyman getting his moment in the All-Star spotlight.
That spotlight, incidentally, won’t shine on Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin or Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews. Both have withdrawn because of injuries; because of a rule instituted to discourage late withdrawals, each must also serve a one-game suspension when play resumes after the break.
The NHL said Thursday that Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov will replace Ovechkin on the Metropolitan Division roster and Nashville’s James Neal will replace Toews on the Central Division roster. John Tavares of the New York Islanders will be the Metropolitan Division captain.
This year’s game will be played as a three-on-three tournament, with the Metropolitan Division facing the Atlantic Division and the Central facing the Pacific in semifinal games. The winners will play for the championship and will share a $1-million prize.