John Scott wasn’t meant to be an All-Star hockey player. He’s what many call a “meat and potatoes” type of guy. He’s not flashy, not fancy, doesn’t turn heads, but he does the job he’s been hired to do. Some use the word “Goon” others “Enforcer” but there are several others to choose from as well. John Scott fights during hockey games and gets paid for it. This is just life in the NHL and fans are aware of this. Some former players, *cough cough* Mike Milbury *cough cough* say there is no room for fighting in the NHL and they denounce any player who fits the bill for an “enforcer”. Well that’s a load of garbage that needs to be carried out to the street. Not only is it ridiculous to change a game which has been played the same way for more years than any of us have been alive, it’s also a rather idiomatic statement. Many examples exist for why hockey should eliminate fighting. Football players don’t fight. You’re right. Where does a football player have to land a punch and not hit padding or some other protective gear? They do headbutt each other with helmets on from time to time but I digress… Baseball players don’t fight. Very few baseball players are known for being tough and there are bench clearing brawls, where the teams just push each other around. While that’s not fighting it isn’t part of the game either. Basketball players… blah blah we get the picture. Fighting has never been a part of any other major sport so let’s stop comparing apples and grapes.
After being voted into the 2016 All-Star Game, the Arizona Coyotes Scott traded with the perceived intent of him being forced to not play in the game. There’s no need for me to rehash that story so you can read that from Scott’s telling here. The bottom line is that the league doesn’t like fighting, doesn’t want fighting, and uses the excuse of trying to “clean up the game to make it more marketable” as a ploy in their quest for a larger fan base, and ultimately more income. Raise your hand if you watch NASCAR for the driving skills. Yeah, I just watch the news highlights for the wrecks too. The league did not expect the backlash they received from fans when Scott’s ability to participate in the All-Star weekend came into question. It took a couple of days but League Commissioner, Gary Bettman, finally commented that it was never a possibility that Scott wouldn’t play. Every fan knows that isn’t a true statement. The insiders had already leaked the info that Scott was pressured by the league to bow out of the game and he stood his ground; quite rightfully so. The league is known for showing favoritism. They don’t want Scott to blemish the level of class at the All-Star Game, but Alex Ovechkin can do this…
Meanwhile, with fans focused on Dennis Wideman cross-checking a linesman from behind incident, the league announced two additions to the All-Star Rosters. Ovechkin and Jonathan Toews were both suspended for one game each due to their lack of participation in this non Stanley Cup event. In their stead, the league added Evgeny Kuznetsov and James Neal to the rosters. Basically, the league added this:
No offense to Neal as a person, but as a player, this guy will turn Nashville into Trashville this weekend. I could go through the list of what makes Neal an absolute disgrace to the game but it’s already been done here. I recommend you check that link out and let the info marinate. John Scott is no angel but I’d rather see him there as the player fans voted into the game than this schmuck the league chose as a replacement for Toews. At this point, I really don’t see how the NHL suits can sit on their high horses discussing how they are cleaning up the league and how they are sending messages to players who throw dirty hits yet they make a decision to send the scum of the league to the All-Star Game. Coaches receive fines if they intentionally put players on the ice against opponents in order to incite a fight. I guess putting two players with aggressive tendencies on the ice at the All-Star Game isn’t meant to be seen in the same light. Personally, I stopped caring about the All-Star Game when the 3 on 3 format was announced. I got excited to watch when Scott won the voting. Now I just hope Neal picks a fight he can’t win and Scott ends up resurfacing the ice with Neal’s face. What do you think?