Great Scott: NHL enforcer rides social media wave to All-Star game
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, January 19, 2016 8:51PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 19, 2016 9:36PM EST
The NHL has "freed" John Scott, and his legions of fans are rejoicing.
The league brought an end to rampant speculation on Tuesday by announcing that the journeyman enforcer would keep his role as Pacific Division captain at the 2016 NHL All-Star game in Nashville.
Many fans feared that the six-foot-eight tough guy, with just 11 career points to his name, would be kept out of the game -- despite being selected in a fan vote -- after a trade out of the division last week.
Scott was traded by the Arizona Coyotes to the Montreal Canadiens, and promptly assigned to the team's American Hockey League affiliate in St. John's, Nfld., making his status for the festivities on Jan. 30-31 unclear.
Some NHL insiders speculated that the lumbering tough guy wouldn't be allowed to participate in what is traditionally considered a mid-season showcase for the league's top talent.
In response, many of the same fans who made Scott the top vote-getter for his division created the hashtag #FreeJohnScott to express their disappointment.
But Tuesday's announcement sent them into ecstasy.
One Redditor went as far as to Photoshop Scott into a painting entitled "One Nation Under God," by Utah-based artist Jon McNaughton.
The doctored image shows Scott, as Jesus, holding up the U.S. constitution, while NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, with a look of shock on his face, makes a phone call in the background. "The Great One," Wayne Gretzky, can also be seen smirking to the left of Scott.
The push to have Scott play in the All-Star game was driven largely by the r/hockey community on Reddit, as well as the podcasts Marek vs. Wyshynski and the Steve Dangle Podcast.
Many fans used their vote on Scott as act of protest, because they perceived the All-Star's entertainment value to be dwindling in recent years.
While others did it as a joke, hoping it would be funny to watch the lead-footed Scott participate in the game's new 3-on-3 tournament, which is designed to open up the ice for skill players like Patrick Kane, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.
Initially, Scott was a reluctant participant, saying that he didn't want to be voted into the all-star game.
Scott tries to stay away from social media, and doesn't use Twitter, but found out from his fellow NHLers, who are excited about his captaincy.
"I got a bunch of texts from some guys I played with – guys around the league – and everybody is pumped about it," Scott told CTV News Channel.
"They're just saying: 'Go out there and show them what you got. You're a good hockey player, just go out there and have fun.'"
And Scott has embraced the limelight, going as far as to print T-shirts for his Pacific Division teammates.
The shirts say: "Thanks for believing in me. Love always, the captain."
Following Tuesday's announcement, Scott said that he was "looking forward to enjoying a fun and unique experience" with his family.
"While being voted to the All-Star Game by the fans was not something I expected to happen, I am excited to participate in the All-Star events with my fellow players," said Scott.
And even though Scott didn't expect the wave of support, he appreciates it nonetheless.
"It means a lot. It means I've been in this league a while and I kind of resonated with the fans, and they want me to be in the All-Star game," Scott said.
"And it is the All-Star game, so how can you not be excited about it," he added.