It’s the no-brainer of all no-brainers.
Sure, John Scott has played 286 NHL games with which he has to show just 11 points. Twelve of those games came last season. He also has not only played in an NHL All-Star Game, he was the MVP of the event when he participated in it last season after winning a fan vote that garnered his entry despite not having close to the credentials.
Of course, having Scott in the game came much to the chagrin of the powers that be in the NHL, and it was assumed there would be reform to the system to prevent the stuffing of the ballot box for individuals like the controversial enforcer the took the All-Star Game by storm this past January.
It appears that will not be the case.
Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday that there will be “no substantive changes” to the All-Star voting system, in which fans voted for four players to represent the four NHL divisions as captains in the four-team tournament. Scott was the leading vote-getter. A trade of Scott from Arizona to Montreal ensued, in which he subsequently demoted to the AHL. The trade led to speculation of a dubious ploy within the NHL offices to shame Scott into bowing out, as the captains had to play in the respective divisions they were representing. The NHL still allowed Scott to represent the Pacific Division as a free agent, but not without having some egg on its face, be it warranted or unwarranted.
While Scott was the story of the game and his presence at it was widely celebrated, there was still some embarrassment on the front of the NHL that he was there in the first place. It’s what led to the belief there would be changes.
It’s important to note the Ken Campbell of the Hockey News learned from a source that the voting will be restricted to ‘bona-fide NHL players’. However, the source didn’t expand on what exactly that meant. It could mean anybody on an active NHL roster, a standard Scott would’ve met at the time of balloting.
The NHL All-Star Game in 2016 was just what the doctor ordered. Not only did it save the event, it was bolstered to being appointment viewing. A four team, three-on-three tournament in which three 20-minute games were player. Sure, it still lacked the intensity, the commitment to defense, and the candor of, well, a hockey game that counts for something.
But what made it so great was what it wasn’t – a tedious, drawn-out that game that was played up to be something that mattered even though everyone knew it was meaningless. You could find 11 p.m. over-40 beer league games down at the local ice forum that were more compelling that past NHL All-Star Games.
Who cares if someone who didn’t belong won the fan vote and MVP? Would you rather see the winning team decide the host of the first game of the Stanley Cup final? Go back to the 60-minute snoozefests that ended with a 20-15 final?
It’s a fan event, and last year the fans spoke – albeit in a sarcastic, borderline-mocking tone – to put Scott in the game.
If the NHL is truly standing pat and punting on reform, good for them. It’s the right decision.