Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Trading John Scott: NHL Shows Mean Side
Nobody has to tell me that sports are not there to be "nice." Sports are about a lot of things before "nice" comes into the picture: competition, winning, and — most of all — money.
But, at times, certain aspects of sports don't necessarily require a commitment to anything other than good, old-fashioned "fun." And that's what #JohnScottASG was supposed to be about.
When a sect of NHL fans banded together and decided it would be hilarious to vote John Scott, previously of the Arizona Coyotes, to the All-Star Game, it was an act of pure, unadulterated fun.
Who wouldn't want a 6'8" immobile defenseman, who has nearly twice as many penalty minutes as games played in his career, roaming the ice three-on-three (besides the other two guys on his team)? Wouldn't it be hilarious to showcase the (lack of) talent in a player more known for his punches than his hockey?
And the NHL was seemingly all for the publicity — until it worked. Scott earned more votes than any player in his division and was named captain of the Pacific Division's unit.
High fives all around for casual fans. Disaster for those in the commissioner's office trying to maintain the integrity of the all-star tradition.
Why was it so bad that Scott was selected by fans? Let's look at his stats in comparison with the three other captains:
Jaromir Jagr (Florida Panthers): 15 G, 17 A, 32 pts, +7 (but a first-ballot Hall of Famer)
Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals): 26 G, 13 A, 39 pts. +21
Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks): 25 G, 38 A, 63 pts, +20
John Scott (Arizona Coyotes): 1 A, 1 pt, 0 (11 games)
It makes perfect sense that the league wouldn't be enthralled with such a movement. But what doesn't make sense is the tack the NHL decided to take.
Today, around 10:00 AM, the Arizona Coyotes demoted John Scott to the AHL. This seemed like a sound — if not slightly curious — strategic move for the organization, who didn't need the enforcer on their roster imminently. The general manager assured fans that Scott would be elevated to the NHL roster in time to be activated for the All-Star Game. No harm, no foul.
Then news broke about five hours later that Scott had been included in a deal to the Montreal Canadiens. For those of you not too big on geography, they aren't in the Pacific Division. The Canadiens promptly sent him back to the AHL. If he is not activated before the All-Star Game, he won't even be eligible for it.
Reporter Bob McKenzie published a tweet that implied Scott's inclusion in the trade stems from an interaction he had with league officials some weeks back, where they asked him to decline the opportunity to be captain. Scott didn't.
Then they asked if he'd be willing to take on a role at the game akin to an injured player. Scott wanted to be a full participant.
So the league took the next step — found incentive for Arizona, who acquired former first-round draft pick Jarred Tinordi, to ship their problem to another time zone.
Apart from the fact that Montreal certainly has no plans to promote Scott, his wife is expecting a child in Arizona and he was set to have fun with his peers for the first (and likely only) time in his career. Not anymore.
If, as some are suggesting, the NHL orchestrated this move in order to get their way for the ASG, there are problems on many levels.
First, they are admitting that their voting system does not work. In what other sport does the top vote-getter get left off because the league vetoes the fans? It simply doesn't happen. If the NHL chooses to use the idiotic fan-voting system (which every major sport currently uses besides the NFL), then they must abide by the decisions of the people paying for tickets and bringing in revenue.
Secondly, the league is simply being cruel. I understand that they want to reignite interest in their All-Star Game — all pro sports have tried a number of ways to garner fan support for these events — but silencing the fans is not the way to do this. It's almost like the NHL wanted to give fans the illusion that their opinions mattered — as long as their opinions matched the league's agenda.
Make no mistake, John Scott does not deserve to be an all-star. As long as fans are allowed to cast votes, All-Star Game appearances no longer need to show up on Wikipedia pages, biographies, or Hall of Fame write-ups. They are meaningless when fans are selecting people based on novelty.
However, if the league wants to employ such a faulty system, it must abide by it. This situation was not John Scott's fault, and yet in the most meaningful ways, he is now the one paying for it.
Let's just hope someone in the front office is willing to step up and tell John Scott to his face why they did this. I think I know what Scott might have to say.