It has the potential to be a very awkward, very embarrassing and...potentially, very fun, story for the NHL. It is now looking very possible, very likely even if it continues to be a kind of cause celebre on the absurdity of the Internet, that seldom-used, 33-year-old Arizona Coyotes forward John Scott will play in the NHL's All-Star Game next month in Nashville.
Will the NHL actually allow Scott to captain a three-on-three team and let the whole world watch him try to keep up with the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane and other top skill players as part of a marquee event? Well, yes, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated to Bleacher Report Wednesday.
The league is allowing fans to vote for captains of the four divisional teams in the new three-on-three ASG format, and while Ovechkin, Kane and Jaromir Jagr are leading the voting for their respective divisions, Scott, who has played only six games for Arizona this season despite being healthy, is the runaway leader in the Pacific voting. He started out the day behind the other three in overall voting, but since the story went viral Wednesday morning, Scott has rocketed to No. 1 overall.
All this for a guy who has played only 280 games in an eight-year career for six different teams, whose biggest claim to fame previously was for being the second-tallest player in the league (6'8") and the subject of three suspensions. He has been derided as a goon, the last of a dying breed of player whose extinction can't come soon enough for many fans and pundits.
How did this happen? According to Yahoo's Greg Wyshynski, the "Marek vs. Wyshynski" podcast proposed it, Reddit seconded the motion (NSFW language) and then it became a real thing. As one Redditor put it well: "Man. We're probably f-----g up the plans that John Scott definitely made for the all-star weekend."
Later in the day, Scott told the Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan that he didn't want to be voted in by the fans like this, that he appreciated thinking of him and all but that "I don't want to have my name in the headlines for this reason."
Sorry, John, too late. The people have spoken.
My two cents on this: While Scott may politely decline to participate or the Coyotes might suddenly list him out with a mysterious ailment right before the Jan. 31 game, he is definitely going to win the vote now. Are you kidding, now that the league has said it won't stop it from happening, this will only go viral even more. This has "Vote For Pedro," Napoleon Dynamite written all over it.
And you know what? I'm fine with it. The NHL All-Star Game has resisted every other attempt at being engineered into a genuinely entertaining product for many years now, so why not just give in and let it become a true spectacle with John Scott being out there against the world's best? The league already cried "No Mas" at taking it seriously by implementing a three-on-three format for this season's event, so let's just go all the way now. The "World" versus North America, East vs. West, fantasy drafts—nothing has changed the inescapable truth that a hockey game without hitting or defense is a tire fire to watch.
Frankly, I bet a lot more people will tune in to the game if Scott is actually the captain of the Pacific and the top vote-getter. This might secretly be what the league has wanted all along. If it's true that people can't turn away from a car wreck, then this should be ratings gold.
This is not some killjoy take here. It's just an all-star game. It's an exhibition. It is supposed to be a fun day for fans to see players play together on a team they otherwise never would. John Scott is a real, live NHL player, paid real, genuine, good money by his team. If the voting is truly open to all players and this is who the fans really want to see, then let the voice of the people be heard.
Of course, it will be a farce, an affront to the taste-makers who want their hockey pure as a fresh Canadian snowfall.
So what. This is actually the perfect response from the fans to a game that was already a farce.
Adrian Dater covers the NHL for Bleacher Report