I wasn't going to watch this. I had made up my mind a couple years ago that I was done with All Star games, as they just seemed like nothing more than an exercise in vanity for the NHL, another opportunity for Gary Bettman to tell us that we don't actually see the burning hubris all around us, that the game is better than ever. It couldn't be taken seriously anymore, and even as the John Scott campaign picked up steam, I had no interest in taking time out of my day to watch the game. And then, the NHL changed everything.
It's either another example of their tone deafness about everything fans want and need from the game, the players and the league, or the most brilliantly organized false flag operation ever. I know Bettman's a smart guy, very smart. But there's no one alive who could pull this off deliberately. That's not to say that there weren't glitches. The entertainment, even if you were a country fan, seemed to be somewhat lacking. There was the braying jackals of the media: Damian Cox, Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury (ever notice it's always these guys?), still ripping Scott right up to game time. And could the production job done today by Sportsnet have been any worse? Constantly cutting away from the action to show 2nd or 3rd replays, and missing goals in the process. Glenn Healy's nonsensical ramblings, and Dave Randorf's cringe-worthy at best reference to Human Garbage Pile Patrick Kane 'Bringing sexy back to the NHL'. So gross.
All of the lead up to this made me change my mind and actually want to watch this game, because the whole thing was just so infuriating. The NHL constantly shitting all over their fans, the fans that support the game not just with their hard-earned cash, but with their heart and souls. We live and breathe this stuff. Paying attention to what we want once in a while is pretty sound advice, yet one that they never seem to heed. So there I was, watching this game, with a bit of apprehension, as this was going to be the first one with the new 3 on 3 tournament format. Would this even work? They finally got through the intros and the anthems (have you ever heard a worse rendition of 'Oh Canada?' Bloody awful) and then, it was time. Time for John Scott to take Gary Bettman's apology, the comments of every fun-hating media bastard and ram it all down their collective throats. It was glorious. And he was only getting started.
I had a dream for this game. It seemed like one most impossible, but still...
If I thought there was a real chance of John Scott pounding Patrick Kane into dust on Sunday pic.twitter.com/C1MyombrCs— Kent Basky (@KentGBasky) January 29, 2016
While it fell slightly short of that goal, he still won the hearts of hockey fans worldwide, when HE HIT PATRICK KANE AT THE ALL STAR GAME!
Just to put this in context, this was the first recorded ASG hit since 2003. And it was beautiful. Then, Scott did it again, and damned if it wasn't a beauty of a goal.
So after all the controversy, the media hand-wringing and outrage, the league official who said those horrible things about his children being ashamed of him, John Scott was embarrassing the NHL at the All Star Game, but in the exact opposite way they assumed he would. Surely a hat trick would have been the best way to wrap this up, right? Instead, he got his revenge when one of his detractors apologized to his face (credit to JR for this, but he still had this coming)
GLOR. I. OUS. But to be fair, and while the NHL deserves some credit for changing the format to the 3 on 3 tournament, we got treated to some of the most entertaining hockey in ages, and the best All Star Game I can recall ever. Vancouver's Daniel Sedin had 2 goals and 2 assists, but didn't even get MVP consideration because Denis Potvin was apparently helping Milbury and Cox pick the potential candidates. Roberto Luongo was stellar in both games for the Atlantic, and he and Jonathan Quick of the LA Kings both had shutouts in the first half of the final. Can you imagine anyone predicting this before the game? They would have been laughed off the net. And yet, the hockey was still damn entertaining. Jaromir Jagr was awesome, as always. There was even another black eye for the NHL as a mic'd up Tyler Seguin blurted out "OH SHIT!" on live television, and then hilariously apologized "Sorry for swearing, Canada". Funny as hell, but still: anyone who swears on live tv is as odd as shit.
The NHL tried it's best to get in one last heel turn (which looked really REALLY bad after Bettman's schmoozefest with George Stromboulopolis, where he once again insisted the NHL always wanted Scott there), and announced the choices for fans in house to vote for the MVP. Roberto Luongo. Taylor Hall. Johnny Gaudreau. All had great games, no doubt. But this was a no-brainer. And the NHL looked content to rub our collective noses in it. Cue the outraged fans in Nashville, who booed the announcement and chanted 'MVP' every time Scott touched the puck. And twitter? Well it reacted as you might expect.
John Scott saved this game, and maybe the season for a lot of hockey fans. Can you remember the last time you felt this good about the game of hockey? The start of the 2011 Finals? Sydney Crosby's Golden Goal? After days of trampling on the fans and especially on Scott, he showed what it truly means to be an All Star. Tomorrow, John Scott has to go back to the AHL. He will likely then be pulled away again in the next few days for the impending birth of his twins. There can be absolutely no doubt about one thing though. John Scott's daughters will always be very proud of their dad and what he did these past couple weeks. He handled it all with grace, humility and humour that belies his profession. And he won a spot in the hearts of hockey fans, no matter their allegiance, for a long, long time.