Hey Now, You’re An All Star

The annual NHL All Star Game (ASG) was held this month and, although many consider the game to be a bit of a farce, this year it was met with uproar. Fans were given the opportunity to vote for the players they wanted to see hit the ice in Nashville. One of those was John Scott. At 33 years old, Scott has netted five times in his NHL career. Regardless of whether the campaign to vote Scott to the ASG was a joke, fans still voted him in as captain of the pacific division and when the league tried to remove him, it wasn’t met kindly. Scott was asked to bow out and when he declined, the league traded him and sent him down to the AHL (his wife was nine months pregnant with twins at the time – she has since given birth, many congratulations!). Incredibly, he was asked whether his daughters would be proud. I’ve studied child psychology and have spent a great deal of time with kids, so I say this with some confidence – those kids look pretty proud of their daddy.

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You cannot give fans the power to vote then throw a tantrum when things do not go your way. Joke or not, he was voted in fair and square. No rigging, no technical glitch, fans spent their time voting for him. However, professional sports have become big businesses, and the NHL is no exception. John Scott an All-Star makes a mockery of what it’s about. This game is about money! The game is sponsored by Honda, and the skills competitions are sponsored by Bridgestone, DraftKings, Discover Card, AMP Energy, and Gatorade. We need the big names at this game to reel in the viewers, not some spare part by the name of John Scott.  Scott wrote an incredible piece for the Players Tribune that gives an insight into his life, and the life of an enforcer. The most poignant part of the article was this:

One of the reasons I’ve made it as long as I have in the league is because I specifically know I’m not an All-Star.

To make the NHL, you cannot be average. You may end up being average in the NHL, but to even get a glimpse of that ice, you have to be so much more. From pee-wee hockey and other youth teams, you hear of Player X scoring non-stop, being the best skater, playing against boys so much older and bigger. They were born to be a star. But then you move up a league. You go from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond. You’re up against people with similar skill sets to you, forcing you to prove your worth. You might have been a star as a kid, but buddy, when you’re about to face off against Sidney Crosby or Patrick Kane, you’ve really got to be exceptional if you want to shine. And that is hard for players. It’s hard to adjust to being average or worse when you’ve always been the best and likely the reason some players tend to flop, even those with a lot of buzz around them. They’ve shown they can grind, they’ve got the skills, but confronting that issue, well maybe it’s a matter of mind.

It’s easy to disregard the skill, effort, and dedication players have put in to reach NHL standards when they don’t have the name or numbers to back them up. We can’t all be Jagr or Gretzky. You need enforcers, you need d-men who put their bodies on the line every night to stop the goals, not just score them. Whilst the NHL might have been kicking themselves in the furor over Scott, it all worked out in the end. Scott was allowed to play in the ASG; he scored twice and was voted MVP. The Pacific Division won the game. The attention placed on Scott most likely drew more viewers or at least interest into the game, so the NHL could breathe a sigh of relief. Honestly, I can’t wait for the day when Disney makes a movie about John Scott defeating the evil NHL and becoming the people’s champion.

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And for the record, John Scott has more all star goals than Sidney Crosby. Who’s the star now?

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