Bet on the NHL turning this week’s feel good John Scott narrative into something they can actually take credit for. If there is one thing that Gary Bettman and crew can do, it is to walk away from a disaster of their own making and somehow come out smelling good about it.
Bet on the NHL – John Scott’s Improbable Run
The biggest story out of the NHL All Star Game this weekend was also the biggest story heading into it. John Scott. The journeyman fighter was the improbable fan selection to captain the Pacific Division after a campaign by Phoenix Coyote fans to send him to the All-Star game fans went viral and caught the imagination of hockey fans everywhere. The story however got much more interesting in how the NHL and Gary Bettman reacted to his selection and their attempts to keep him out of the big game.
Early on in the fan campaign to vote Scott in, the NHL asked him to speak publicly and ask that fans stop voting for him. And he did- as he believed that other players were far more deserving and he didn’t want it all to turn into a cynical joke on either himself or the league. However, the fan campaign continued and eventually Scott found himself the captain of the Pacific Division. At that point the NHL resorted to evil and according to Scott asked him “if his kids would be proud of him” for accepting the nomination. Really, is that something you say to a guy that fights for a living? Suddenly John Scott was all in.
John Scott – NHL All-Star Game MVP
The rest is well known at this point- the two goals from a player who only has five lifetime, leading his division to winning the most exciting and competitive All-Star Game in years, and improbably but wonderfully hoisting the All-Star MVP award. Fans go nuts. Players go nuts. Media goes nuts. Bettman activates lawyer smile. Suddenly, it all felt fun and about the game of hockey once again.
By all accounts the NHL’s new All Star Game format was a big success and finally put rest to the last several years of mediocre scorefests. With one million dollars going to the winning division, you wouldn’t figure that $90,000 a player would be that big of a deal for a bunch of millionaires (minus John Scott). However, much like a Michael Jordan golf bet, it is not so much the amount of money to be won but rather the mentality of a an elite level athlete to compete over, well, anything.
But by far the 2016 NHL All-Star Game was a success because David once again beat Goliath. Because a 6’8 Little Guy took on the Establishment and won. And won not with his fists this time, but with his heart, grace, and humor in what was the hockey experience of a lifetime.
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