John Scott reported to the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps on Sunday, but the question remains whether he will take part in the NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 31 in Nashville.
“I wish I had the answer,” Scott told reporters in St. John’s. “I haven’t really heard anything from the league or anything, so I don’t know what the position is or kind of where anybody stands right now. It’s still kind of up in the air.”
The NHL should be ashamed of the way it has handled the Scott situation since fans voted the 6-foot-8, 260-pound enforcer as one of four captains for the All-Star Game despite the fact he played only 11 games with the Arizona Coyotes, picking up one assist and 25 penalty minutes.
In what can best be described as a bizarre trade, the Canadiens acquired the 33-year-old Scott from the Coyotes last Friday, along with defenceman Victor Bartley, in exchange for former first-round draft pick Jarred Tinordi and minor-league forward Stefan Fournier.
The Canadiens will insist that Scott will never play a game for the Canadiens and was a throw-in on the deal that they had to take to make it happen. Which makes you wonder why Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin didn’t just say no? Or at least wait until after the All-Star Game. It’s not like Bartley — who has one goal in 112 career NHL games — is going to solve the Canadiens’ scoring problems. And Tinordi has already spent more than half a season sitting out as a healthy scratch in Montreal.
Why the rush?
Scott was asked by reporters Sunday in St. John’s if he had spoken with Canadiens management since the trade was made.
“I talked with them and we’ll kind of leave that between me and them,” Scott said. “I’ve been around and they know what I bring to the table. If they want me to play up there, I will. I’m just going to come down here and do my job and play my game.”
The NHL asked fans to vote for the four all-star captains — making every player in the league eligible — and now it looks like the league doesn’t want to accept the results. And could the league — and commissioner Gary Bettman — not have anticipated something like this happening when they decided to go with online fan voting?
Whether you like Scott or not, he is the innocent victim in all of this. He has also handled the situation with class — which is more than can be said about the NHL.
Fans have already started a hashtag #freejohnscott and in a poll question on HI/O 71 per cent of the votes as of 1 p.m. Monday said Scott should play in the All-Star Game.
What’s the harm of letting Scott go to the All-Star Game — which has become a joke anyways, now becoming a three-on-three tournament — and have some fun? At least he wants to go, unlike Jaromir Jagr, who was also voted as a team captain and has made it very clear he’d rather be on a beach somewhere on Jan. 31 instead of playing in the All-Star Game.
The NHL and the Coyotes reportedly asked Scott numerous times to bow out of the All-Star Game and he refused. Good for him. Scott said he was looking forward to bringing his family with him to Nashville to “have some fun” and “enjoy the whole show.”
Scott’s wife is pregnant with twins — due in a couple of weeks — and after he was traded she left Arizona and went back to their home in Michigan while her husband headed to St. John’s.
The NHL sells violence by allowing fighting in the game and Scott is the biggest, toughest guy in the league. But while the NHL seems to love fighting, it now seems embarrassed to honour an enforcer at the All-Star Game.
Something definitely smells bad about this trade and the Canadiens being involved. When asked if he thought there was a consipiracy in place, Scott told reporters in St. John’s: “Everybody talks about this and that and everything else. Every stone goes unturned, I guess, in this league. So I’m not really surprised, I don’t really have an opinion on it. So it’s just one of those things where you can kind of just form your own opinion, I guess.”
When asked if he was surprised by the trade to the Canadiens, Scott said: “It kind of surprised me. Didn’t really expect to be on the market. But trades happen, it’s a business … happy to go to Montreal with the IceCaps here.”
Scott was made a healthy scratch for the IceCaps game Sunday night — a 6-4 win over the Toronto Marlies. One reporter in St. John’s posed the question: “You practised this morning, but you were a scratch for the game. Any particular reason?”
“You’re just the negative-question guy, eh?” Scott responded. “That’s good for you. No, I got in last night fairly late, I haven’t skated in a few days, so I decided … or the coaches said just to kind of take a day off and just kind of get used to the area and stuff and just kind of cool down a little bit.”
When asked what he could bring to the IceCaps, Scott said: “I’ve obviously been around, been around some good teams. Just bring my experience and try to teach you how to be a pro and just kind of guide them. I don’t expect to come in here and play 20 minutes or anything. Be in and out of the lineup like I usually am and just kind of bring myself … just do what I do.”
Scott said he was “obviously shocked” when he learned that fans had voted him into the All-Star Game, adding: “I never expected to go to Nashville or any kind of All-Star Game, especially in the NHL. It was exciting, it was a big surprise. I was happy with it.”
When asked if he had a message for the fans who voted for him, Scott said: “Thanks a lot, it was fun. I appreciate all the support. That’s it.”
The message from the NHL is that the league doesn’t want to listen to the fans after asking them to vote.
And who can they blame for that?
Canadiens get day off
The Canadiens were given the day off on Monday following Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago and there was no media availability.
The Canadiens, who have earned only nine of a possible 40 points during their last 20 games (4-15-1), are back in action Tuesday night when the Boston Bruins visit the Bell Centre.