I felt like I was watching a Rangers playoff game during the Pacific vs. Atlantic championship on Sunday night. If there was video of me watching Rangers-Lightning Game 7 in May and video of me watching then NHL All-Star Game championship, a split screen of the two would look like the split screens of Robinson Cano and Rod Carew. For a game with zero meaning other than for the players on the ice wanting their $90,909 winning share, I was pulling for the Pacific and once they took a 1-0 lead, I slowly watched the clock tick away. All of this unnecessary stress and uneasiness for no reason other than John Scott.
If it weren’t for Pacific captain John Scott, I would have watched no more than five minutes of Sunday night’s three games. After watching the Metropolitan and Atlantic put in the worst of efforts in the night’s opening game, there was no way I was sticking around to watch the Western Conference’s two teams “compete” if not for Scott. But the 33-year-old with five goals and six assists in 285 career games kept me around as if a trip to the Cup Final was on the line.
The NHL got its wish. They got their real fans and even casual fans to care about an exhibition game in 2016 that has no significance. But it wasn’t the way they wanted by implementing 3-on-3 play in a tournament format with $1,000,000 going to the winning team as a carrot at the end of the stick to get their multi-millionaire stars to care about competing. It was because they embarrassed themselves in a way only the NHL could thanks to the scum in the league office acting like the scum that they are.
The NHL’s attempt to keep John Scott out of the All-Star Game after he rightfully won a spot and captaincy through their own fan voting system was disgusting. Their plan to force a league-owned franchise in the Coyotes to trade Scott to Montreal and stick him in the AHL to make him ineligible for the game to try to keep an enforcer and non-traditional “All-Star” out of the game was disgusting. The idea that they didn’t that Scott would have to move his wife, who’s pregnant with twins, and two young daughters from Arizona to Newfoundland, or force him to be apart with his about-to-be larger family all to avoid him playing in the All-Star Game was disturbing.
Even though the entire story seems unimaginable and even though Scott’s account of it on The Players’ Tribune seems unfathomable, it shouldn’t be. This is the NHL we’re talking about. The same league that forced a partial-season lockout in 1994-95 and a full-season lockout in 2004-05 and another partial-season lockout in 2012-13. The league has never cared about doing what’s right or taking care of their fans or taking advantage of a great public relations opportunity. They have operated like the Mets at a league level and have remained tone deaf to the hockey world outside of their Avenue of the Americas office. Only the league could make me miss a former Ranger, who played six games for the team four years ago. And only the fans could make sure Scott attended the weekend and only the fans could make a write-in candidate the MVP.
It took pure scum to try to get Scott out of the weekend and to force a trade of him and to ask him to back out of the weekend and to ask him, “Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?” and to leave him off the MVP ballot during the tournament. So it made sense that the king of all the scum, Gary Bettman, would stand there after championship amid a chorus of boos with that shit-eating grin on his face and shake Scott’s hand and pose with that dirty smile for a photo opportunity while telling Scott, “I’m proud of you.”
Before Bettman could smile about how his poorly-run league backed into a Disney-like story because of his own Joe Thornton-like leadership, John Scott had scored two goals. The first was the first for the Pacific in the tournament, tying the Central at 1 and the second came on a breakaway later in his team’s first game. He had scored twice and sat his former teammate Patrick Kane down before fake fighting the league’s leading scorer after the Blackhawk scored. He had played in front of a sold-out Bridgestone Arena chanting “M-V-P” at him and had the backing of the world’s best players at his side, giving the ultimate eff you to the league even if scumbag Bettman and his band of scum would be the ones who would ultimately benefit of the league’s short-lived publicity. And he had stood on the blue line, as an All-Star Game champion, $90,909 richer and in awe as his name was announced as the tournament MVP with a new pickup truck to go with his trophy.
The only two All-Star Games that have ever stood out to me were 1989-90 when Mario Lemieux scored four goals in Pittsburgh (which I was only three years old for, but relived hundreds of times thanks to the VHS Dynamite on Ice) and 1995-96 when Ray Bourque scored the game-winning goal with 38 seconds left in Boston. Now 2015-16 when John Scott took over the hockey world and then took over in Nashville joins them.
I wonder if his kids are proud of him.