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If you spent Sunday night doing all the homework that you neglected over the weekend, then you missed what could have been the most astounding feat in hockey since a group of rag-tag college kids knocked off the Soviet super­power.
John Scott, a self-labeled ‘goon,’ who has only scored five goals in his 285-game career, was awarded MVP of the NHL All-Star Game after he netted two goals in the evening, including an equalizer in the the Pacific Division’s semi-final game against the Central division. He even­tually cap­tained his team to a 1 – 0 victory over the Atlantic All-Stars in the cham­pi­onship of the All-Star tour­nament.
If you don’t follow hockey then you have probably never even heard of John Scott. If you do follow hockey then you would not expect to see the 6‑foot‑8 behemoth skating with the best of the best. A small group of Phoenix Coyotes fans, however, wanted to see the lovable big man do just that.
Scott’s fans launched an internet cam­paign just over a month ago to see the enforcer named captain of the Pacific Division squad. Scott quickly jumped ahead in the fan vote and it appeared he could actually win a spot in the All-Star tour­nament. The league, however, did not want to see this happen, saying that the All-Star game was no place for a goon.
League offi­cials reached out to Scott and urged him to con­vince his fans to send their votes else­where. Scott agreed and asked that his sup­porters vote for his team­mates instead of him. The fans were not deterred and by the time voting closed Scott had received more votes than any other player.
Even after the selection, league offi­cials approached Scott and and asked him to decline the honor “for the good of the league.” One official even asked him if he “really thought his daughters would be proud” of being voted into the tour­nament. This direct dis­re­spect was ill-received by Scott and he told them that he planned on playing in the game hosted by his Coyotes.
The fol­lowing week Scott was traded to the Mon­treal Cana­diens, members of the Atlantic Division, and then promptly demoted to their minor-league AHL affil­iates in St. John’s. This pro­voked outcry and even claims of col­lusion. Amidst these alle­ga­tions the league announced that despite his status as an AHL player Scott would be allowed to play in the game.
All of this wheeling and dealing prompted Scott to release a heartfelt essay out­lining exactly why he had decided to play in the game. He thanked fans for their support and chas­tised the league for their inter­ference. After all, the NHL All-Star Game is for the fans, and the fans wanted John Scott. He explained that he under­stood he wasn’t an elite skater or goal-scorer, but that he felt he owed it to the fans to give them his all, even if that meant looking foolish on a national stage.
On Sunday night John Scott did not look foolish. He not only skated with the best the NHL has to offer, he beat them. He was a member of the 1980 U.S. hockey team and his oppo­nents were the Soviets.
It was a sto­rybook ending to a script that would’ve been hard to believe two months ago. As John Scott was carried off on the shoulders of his Pacific Division team­mates, I couldn’t help but let a smile cross my face.
Thank you, Mr. Scott, for standing for what you believed to be right, for making the NHL All-Star Game fun, and for making hockey fans all over the world believe in mir­acles once again.