After much speculation regarding John Scott's NHL All-Star status, it was announced Tuesday the unlikely selection will captain the Pacific Division's team Jan. 31 in Nashville.
Scott was voted into the game thanks to an Internet campaign, but his spot was put in jeopardy after the Arizona Coyotes traded him to the Montreal Canadiens, who subsequently sent him down to the AHL.
According to NHL.com, however, he will assume the position he was voted into despite the deal.
Per the NHL press release, the 33-year-old veteran is thrilled to have the opportunity to compete with and against the league's best players: "I am looking forward to enjoying a fun and unique experience at All-Star Weekend in Nashville with my family," Scott said. "While being voted to the All-Star Game by the fans was not something I expected to happen, I am excited to participate in the All-Star events with my fellow players."
Scott is an eight-year NHL veteran who has recorded just five goals and six assists over the course of his career. The 6'8" pugilist is best known for his fighting acumen, but that didn't stop fans from voting him into the All-Star Game.
Despite recording just one assist in 11 contests for the Coyotes this season, Scott was chosen to lead the Pacific Division in a new All-Star format that will feature a three-on-three tournament.
While the fans and Scott had fun with it, neither the NHL nor the Coyotes were thrilled he was selected to the game, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie:
Scott was essentially a throw-in to the trade that sent defenseman Victor Bartley to the Habs in exchange for defenseman Jarred Tinordi.
Per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, Montreal's decision to send Scott to the AHL made him ineligible for the All-Star Game by NHL rules.
That led to backlash from many who were none too pleased with the manner in which the NHL and the Coyotes handled the situation, including Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Lazerus:
With support for Scott mounting, the NHL ultimately decided to make an exception and allow him to captain the Pacific despite his trade to the Eastern Conference and eventual demotion.
Leaving Scott out of the game could have created a public relations nightmare for the NHL since it would have undermined the fan vote.
While the NHL All-Star Game has long been an exhibition, that is even more true this year due to the novelty of the three-on-three action. There will be a ton of speed and skill in the tournament, and the thought of the big, lumbering Scott skating alongside the NHL's elite players is something that appealed to the fans.
The NHL All-Star Game is ultimately all about what the fans want to see, and the league came to the realization that Scott is near the top of the list, no matter how bizarre it may seem.
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