There is no question that last year’s All-Star game was interesting. The new three game, 3 on 3 format was quite the change from what hockey fans had become accustomed to, but it seemed to work out okay. Without a doubt, the NHL had been yearning for new ideas to entice viewers to watch the exhibition of the league’s best players…however, without any intention, they could have found their answer elsewhere. Remember John Scott?
What a story…a perennial journeyman that somehow got voted into the All-Star Game. A man that scored one more goal (5) in his entire career than Auston Matthews did in his first NHL game. What started as an internet troll snowballed into a successful movement that landed the most “undeserving” player on a squad with superstars.
Undeserving though? Hardly, at least for a lot of players that have similar style careers. There are way too many professionals across the league that are too often overlooked and overshadowed by the big time play makers. Do they sell tickets to the game? Probably not. Are their jerseys purchased at the team store? Not likely. However, the impact that these guys have on ENTIRE organizations is exponentially higher than most may think. The story gained so much steam, and created such a ruckus that interest in the All-Star Game skyrocketed. The NHL should use their experience with John Scott and adopt a new “unsung hero” roster spot for each division in the All-Star Game.
What always wins? A “feel good” feature does. Why not have a couple every year then? Spotlight a few of the grinders, the work-horses, and showcase the guys who will take a puck to the face, get 20 stitches, and return to the ice afterwards. Hardcore fans realize that after the superstars, the backbone of their teams lie in the depths of the roster. The PK specialists, the shot-blockers, and the players who bring every ounce of their being to the game, day in and day out. Many superstars will say that those gentlemen are the mortar that hold team structures together. While they may fly under the radar on the ice, they are imperative for a team’s success. These players, who often take up the least cap-space, prove to be worth so much more than what their pay scale reflects.
The NHL has just passed a rule that would essentially take away fans ability to overwhelm a vote for a player like John Scott, and understandably so. Instead of making a mockery of the league and Gary Bettman, the league could benefit from showcasing athletes that almost never see the limelight. There were replays being shown of Scott’s experience, as well as his fellow NHL’ers and fans. The response was jovial, welcoming, and exciting. It was warm, and uplifting to see a player whose name may have never been mentioned lifted on the shoulders of athletes who are constantly in the eye of the media. In what started as a big joke, fans embraced John Scott’s character not only as a player, but as a human being as well. Not to say that superstars don’t have an incredibly tough journey into the league, but it is without question a more arduous task for the hard-nosed guys. There will be the question of “what can they contribute to the skills competition and the game?” These guys are still on the roster nightly, harness incredible skillsets, and can surprise a lot of fans. Remember when people witnessed Matt Hendricks’ “paralyzer” shoot-out move? Pandemonium!
Fans who watch religiously, and truly appreciate the game would feel good about watching a franchise guy soak it in for once in their career. This would be an incredibly genuine way to reward some of the lowest paid, but hardest working guys in the league. As a simple idea, it could be molded into a great tradition the NHL could run with. With that said, vote Jay Beagle for the 2017 All-Star Game. He could not be a better candidate. #ALLSTARBEAGLE
By Brennan Reidy