Save your outrage. Don’t go ballistic.
If fans want Arizona Coyotes bruiser John Scott to play in the NHL All-Star Game — and they voted for him often enough to make him the top vote-getter in the Pacific Division — then they should get to see him play at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Jan. 31.
If the NHL cares so little about the All-Star Game that it changes the format nearly every year — and that for several years it subjected players to the humiliation of being selected last in a fantasy draft — there’s no reason to care enough to get upset over Scott’s selection in fan voting.
The game has little meaning to players. It’s a chance for the league to showcase sponsors and, if done right in the host city, to involve fans in festivities that bring the game to more people who can fit into an arena. There’s no sanctity being violated here by Scott’s having been chosen.
Under the latest format, fans voted for one player from each of the four divisions, and the top vote-getter was awarded an All-Star berth and designated the division captain. Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers was the Atlantic Division winner, Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks led voting in the Central Division and Alex Ovechkin led voting in the Metropolitan Division. The remaining 40 players will be chosen by the NHL’s Hockey Operations department and will be announced Wednesday.
The All-Star coaches will be known Jan. 9. The coach of the team in each division with the highest points percentage on that date will coach that division’s All-Star team.
The format for this season’s game will be a three-on-three tournament. The Central and Pacific teams will meet in one semifinal, with the Metropolitan facing the Atlantic in the other. The winners will meet for the championship, with the victors splitting a $1-million prize created to give players incentive to exert some effort.
As for the argument that the All-Star game should feature the best against the best, that notion — sadly — vanished a long time ago.
Physicality is an inherent part of hockey, and too many All-Star games have been no-hitters to create any real interest. Fans pay a lot of money for tickets, and they should get what they want. If they want Scott, who has one assist and 25 penalty minutes in 28 games, so be it.
If the NHL objects to his selection, let executives of the league and the players’ association come up with a better format and voting process or scrap the game altogether until they find something meaningful.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter: @helenenothelen