NASHVILLE, TN – January is just about over and the NHL is heading into their All-Star weekend. I like the All-Star weekend, mainly because it gives most of the New York Rangers a long break in the middle of the season. But for the most part, NHL All-Star weekend is, like in every other sport, a mildly entertaining distraction.
This year the NHL tried to “freshen things up” by changing the format of the game. Instead of the traditional exhibition goal-fest, the NHL decided to introduce a 3-on-3 format, pitting the four divisions against each other – with fans voting for the captains of each division. Now, I’ll admit that the 3-on-3 format for overtime is entertaining and it has led to more goals and thus, less shootouts – which is a good thing. But let’s not kid ourselves that this is hockey.
All-Star games should be exhibitions that honor the best players and fan favorites in their respective sports. The NFL gets this right. The Pro Bowl is just an excuse to send players on a holiday to Hawaii. Nobody cares about the game. I’m not even convinced that they actually play the game. They just publish a score in the newspaper so the bookies can collect. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The NHL has caught the buzz-kill bug from Major League Baseball. They’re trying to take what should be a fun exhibition too seriously. All this while simultaneously making a joke of the game by playing 3-on-3. The fans voted in droves for
Phoenix Arizona Coyotes enforcer John Scott (read this) and made him a captain. Scott has five career goals and has spent most of his career as a yo-yo, bouncing between the NHL and the AHL. Scott is not a good player… but he was voted in by the fans. The NHL, in their attempt to take the All-Star game too seriously, pressured John Scott to sit out the game. Scott, a man with two kids who love watching him play and a wife pregnant with twins, ignored the calls from the league to sit. He had the support of the fans and his teammates.
Then the league made their move to force him out. He was traded to Montreal and promptly sent down to the St. John’s Ice Caps in sunny… Newfoundland. With Scott in the AHL, he wouldn’t be able to participate in the All-Star game. The league had got their way. Or so it seemed. Fans and players alike were rightly outraged. The bad publicity one would expect when you uproot a guy, his pregnant (with twins) wife and their two daughters and make them move 3,000 miles away just to get him out of a game that means nothing caught up with them.
The NHL finally changed their minds and are allowing John Scott to participate in the All-Star game. But the damage is done. He’ll still have to live in Newfoundland for the rest of the season. And the NHL still looks terrible. But I’ll be watching – and rooting -for John Scott on Sunday, as the veteran enforcer takes part in a 3-on-3 All-Star game.
Come back tomorrow for pansy-assed Junoir Blaber, who is nothing like John Scott.