On Sunday Jan. 31, 2016 the National Hockey League hosted its 61st annual All-Star Game in Nashville, with a new 3-on-3 tournament format. Voted in after a fan-initiated campaign that initially started as a mockery of the “fan vote process,” longtime enforcer John Scott made the most his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the festivities with two goals en route to being named the Most Valuable Player of the Game, helping lead Team Pacific to a 9-6 victory over Team Central. Team Pacific would then defeat Team Atlantic 1-0 in the “Championship game.”
Only having one point in 11 games with the Arizona Coyotes and being a frequent healthy scratch this season, the NHL tried to persuade Scott to skip the All-Star game, as they felt the spectacle was an embarrassment to the league. In 285 career NHL games with the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes, the 33-year-old Scott has five goals and six assists for 11 total points, while also amassing 542 penalty minutes and a minus-18 rating. In 90 games with the Sabres from 2012 to 2014, Scott had merely one goal, but quickly became a fan favorite for his character on and off the ice.
On Jan. 15 the Arizona Coyotes would trade Scott to the Montreal Canadiens, who in turn assigned him to the St. John’s Ice Caps of the American Hockey League, in a move many felt was orchestrated by the league to keep him out of the All-Star Game. However, after fan backlash, the league conceded and allowed Scott to participate.
In Team Pacific’s first game of the 3-on-3 tournament, which came against Team Central, John Scott finished with two goals, including one on his first shot during his first shift of the game. He also recorded the game’s only hit on Patrick Kane, who a few minutes later would playfully “fight” Scott after scoring a goal of his own. With Team Pacific winning the game 9-6, they would go on to play Team Atlantic in the “Championship Game”, which they would win 1-0 on a goal by Corey Perry.
As the teams gathered at center ice, the capacity crowd at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville started chanting “MVP!” in honor of Scott, who in turn would officially be named the MVP of the All-Star Game just moments later.
In trying to persuade John Scott to skip the game, an NHL executive asked John Scott if participating in the All-Star Game was something he felt his kids would be proud of, thinking he may end up embarrassing himself and the league. However, in the end the joke was all on him, as everyone from the fans, Scott’s wife and kids who were in attendance, and the other players participating who may be considered “true” all-stars, were all proud of John Scott, who proved that sometimes the underdog does indeed get the last laugh.