It’s a blessing and a curse for the NHL…an all star fan voting quandary equivalent to an election year movie hoax such as Welcome to Mooseport, Dave, or Swing Vote. Much less lovable of an antihero than Ray Romano or Kevin Costner, physical journeyman winger John Scott with his perseverance to participate in Sunday’s NHL All Star Game should be a wake up call for many pretentious minds across our great game.
Friday at All Star Media Day inside Bridgestone Arena, Buffalo Sabres Forward Ryan O’Reilly said it best:
“It’s a little frustrating, seeing him being treated like that and going through all that with the league. It’s not easy for anyone in this game.”
If you haven’t read John Scott’s article he posted to The Players’ Tribune on Thursday, you should. His story as a big goofy engineer student athlete who worked hard to be in “The Show” might be too feel good for some, but to me it’s a familiar, point blank example example of real life. And that’s what truly matters compared to sports writers and suits who think someone doesn’t belong.
Back in 2001, I had just moved to Colorado and was struggling in the early days of my radio career. Growing up learning how to skate in California, I had always wanted to play hockey but for many years lived in the Deep South with hardly any public ice available. But after taking a job at a 3 sheet rink in northwest Denver, this was my chance…to finally assemble my gear and transition my college basketball skills to the world of hockey.
I never thought I could ever make it far, but the competitive fire inside of me at 22 years of age kept burning because I never had the chance to play serious hockey as a kid. The laughing and staring and joking commenced, and even though some of it was in good fun… other attitudes were delivered with an air of pretension that still rears its ugly head today towards guys like John Scott. The discrimination back then towards me was so obtuse that my rink’s Zamboni manager, a kid who grew up playing hockey in Minnesota, refused to teach me how to drive because he told coworkers that I simply didn’t belong.
Scott’s former teammate and NHL points leader Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks posed a great rhetorical question yesterday:
“He did a great job of presenting himself to the league, being able to play the game. He’s a fun-loving guy. He will represent the game well, and he’ll try do the best he can while he’s here. So why not have him here?”
The hows and whys of the “who is better than who” attitudes surrounding this game has much more length than this article allows, but maybe- just maybe this is the weekend where one man’s foundation of truth cuts through a few false ivory towers.
Whether or not he wins the hardest shot competition in the skills events tonight, it’s still the John Scott Show in Smashville. And he took a photo of his media crowd to prove it.
I just hope people watching around the world read between the lines of cynicism and see the guy & game underneath.
More from Tennessee as Jonathan takes over the @Sportsology Twitter account tomorrow from Music City.
2016 Nashville All Star Events:
Saturday, Jan. 30:
2016 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition
7:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. CT
(TV: NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
Sunday, Jan. 31:
2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game
5:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. CT
(TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS)