Sunday, January 3, 2016

Outrage of the week: John Scott, all-star captain

What is the hockey world pretending to be outraged about now?

Nothing makes hockey folks happier than being outraged about something relatively unimportant. We’ll pick one topic fans are complaining about this week and try to figure out if it’s justified.

The issue: After a campaign by fans, John Scott was elected Pacific Division captain for this year’s all-star game.

The outrage: Let’s all make a big show about rolling our eyes over anyone who suggests this isn’t utterly hilarious. After all, the all-star game has no integrity to begin with, and anyone who doesn’t want to see Scott play is just a cranky old fusspot who hates fun and loves hot takes.

Is it justified: Partially. True, the all-star game is a joke, and has been for years. The players don’t try, the game doesn’t look anything like real hockey, the scores are ridiculous and nobody cares. It’s quite possible that nobody has beat that drum more often than I have over the years, so sure, no argument there.

And so it should follow that if you’re going to open fan voting to anyone, the fans should be able to pick whoever they want. Stuff the ballot box for the home team, give the sentimental favorite one last trip, pick the guy with the funniest twitter campaign, you name it. It’s all in good fun, so fill your boots.

But here’s the thing with John Scott: The whole campaign wasn’t all in good fun. This wasn’t a case of fans rising up to elect a popular grinder, a sort-of Brad Marsh selection for the new generation. Scott seems like a nice enough guy, if you can ignore the occasional incident like this, but even in a league where fans typically idolize tough guys, he's never been especially popular outside of whatever market he was playing in. This wasn't about doing something nice for John Scott.

No, this was about fans thinking it would be hilarious to pick the absolute worst player they could think of, and Scott happened to be that guy. Go back and read the Reddit threads and Twitter exchanges; they aren't filled with admiration for Scott's lunch pail ethos, they're about how funny it would be to watch him try to keep up with real players, especially with the new 3-on-3 format. Like your parents always told you, there's a big difference between laughing with someone and laughing at them. That's not to say it was necessarily mean-spirited – this always seemed to be more about embarrassing the NHL than embarrassing Scott. But the end result was the same: find the consensus choice for the league's worst player, and vote them in.

And that's important to remember, because we're already retconning the whole thing into a "We love John Scott" party that it never was. That's a far nicer story now that the votes are in and we're stuck with the result, and you can bet the league will push it hard. Over the next few weeks, there's going to be a concentrated effort to transform this whole debacle into a feel-good story about fans rising up behind an unlikely underdog. But that doesn't mean we have to go along with it.

And it doesn't mean that Scott has to either, although that's his choice. I would have liked to have seen him bow out of the whole thing early on, but that's me. I'm sure he's not under any illusions here, and if he still says he wants to go and share a fun experience with his family then it's hard to blame him. He didn't ask for any of this, so go ahead and make the best of it.

But it's not a feel-good story. It's a case of voting the unpopular kid as prom king so that everyone else can point and laugh, even if most of that pointing is aimed at the league that didn't bother to fix its all-star game until it was too late. Call the whole thing hilarious if you want, but at least be honest about where it came from.




36 comments:

  1. My finger pointing is completely towards the NHL. They took a bad product and made it worse. Never mind the utter, ridiculous fact that people can vote 10 times each day that voting is open. It's a dumb game, voted in a dumb way. The league deserves a dumb result. I just feel bad that I had to start changing my hundreds of votes to Jagr, because I thought he actually deserved it, instead of Bernier. But I guess I feel even worse about the fact that now that I have helped vote John Scott in, I feel like I have to watch the game.

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    1. The NHL is run by that fool Bettman. he's one of the people George Carlin was thinking about when he said, "Americans can be counted on to do one of two things: take a good idea and run it into the ground, or take a bad idea and run it into the ground." This is taking a bad idea and running it into the ground.

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  2. My feeling on it is more based on the long-standing principle that the NHL is, at best, extremely indifferent tot he wishes of its fan base. Lockouts, loser points, advanced stats, salary cap info, expansion locations, Olympic participation, world cup "international" teams, etc., the league clearly doesn't give a damn. The only 3 times a year where it feels like the they are vaguely subject to some sort of feedback from fans are Bettman getting booed at the Draft, at the Stanley Cup presentation, and All-Star voting. Fan voting is incredibly stupid on a number of levels, and it's the only time all year the league pretends to care what its fans think. As such, I contend it is our solemn duty to ruin the hell out of it.

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    1. Strong counterpoint Hainer. I agree with you. this is about Fan Feedback...the only way we can.

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  3. I'm willing to bet that the NHL will ultimately take ownership of this sort of thing in the next ASG, wherein they mandate the selection of a "grinder." In other words, there will be a grinder category that fans have to choose from, thus converting a gimmick into a feature.

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    1. The "grinder" recognition was what the Selke started out as. It was an award for Bob Gainey, who was an excellent player, and he deserved an award.

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  4. Well said. It's important that the bullying nature of the Vote for John Scott campaign not be forgotten. There are plenty of other things that could have been done to show up the league without singling out an individual in this manner. (At minimum, the campaign could have aimed to vote in a non-star in each division; every ballot cast required four selections.)

    John Scott did state publicly in early December that he did not want people voting for him and that he had not earned the honor of an ASG with his play this season (see coverage by AZ beat reporters). I don't know what else he could have done to "bow out". I believe that league rules do not permit a player to remove himself from the ASG ballot, and mandate a suspension if a selected player doesn't attend (unless he has an injury serious enough to cause him to miss a game immediately before or after the ASG). DGB has suggested to me on Twitter that an exception could be made, but personally I think that bending the rules in that manner would only further emphasize the anomaly of John Scott, All Star, and exacerbate the situation.

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  5. I am glad I'm not the only one who felt this way. I definitely wouldn't say bullying though. It's a good riff on the NHL, just wish it could have dodged bringing a player into the crosshairs.

    We're still here reading your stuff, DGB. Hope you start somewhere new asap.

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  6. Did ESPN let you go or something? I've been wondering what happened to you the last two weeks. Most of their stories are crap on there. Guess I'll hang around here then.

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  7. In a time where the true enforcer/'goon' role is slowly but surely being phased out of the game, I hope that Scott and the fans take this as an opportunity to recognise the role and impact (for better or worse) that the true heavyweight fighters have had on the history of the NHL - albeit significantly reduced in the last 10 years or so. While the hindsight of future years will likely reveal to us exactly how dangerous and 'barbaric' their fighting was, and the potential health risks that it exposed them to, perhaps this is the best (and probably last) opportunity we may have to acknowledge a player such as Scott before they're gone. While we consider them dinosaurs now, perhaps Scott can act as a representative for your Domis, McSorleys, Schultzs, Laraques, etc - letting us bid them farewell and thanking them for their significant place in the history of the game.

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    1. Except..... Domi, McSorley, and Probert could actually play hockey. Scott isn't even in the NHL.....

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    3. Yeah, that's a fair point. I'm not saying he's an ideal example - but we just aren't likely to see many more of that type of player. I mean, who's a slugger who can play a bit these days? Chris Neil? But he's not in the heavyweight class either.

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    4. Tom Wilson. Lucic. Big Buff. Thorton (Shawn not Joe). Zack Sill (at the low end of "play")

      I love guys that can bring the boom. (Ovetchkin, Joel Ward, Tom Wilson, Scott Hartnell ) I can live without fights.

      I love MMA. I love hockey. I don't really like watching a boxing match on ice. Too much potential for real injury for guys I'd rather watch play hockey.

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    5. Oh I agree, I have no problem with fighting (and enforcers) being phased out of the game. I was just thinking this may be a final opportunity for us as fans to acknowledge the role and impact of those players on the history and 'folklore' of the game.

      As an aside, are you the Larry Ramey who posts at Japers' Rink? I'm Ben from Oz when I comment in there.

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    6. I take it my cap-centric list of players gave me away. :)

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    7. Haha, I actually saw your name and thought 'where the hell do I know that name from?' And yes, as soon as you mentioned Zach Sill, I knew you could only be a Caps fan :)

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  8. Truth be told, not all votes were cast in a mean spirited fashion, vis a vis John Scott. The NHL, however? The masters and champions of #ThePowerOfAWKWARD? Every last dimpled and hanging chad was confetti for their anticipated, un-self-aware pity party..until they are basking in the glow of the media attention they had lost..
    Have a bit of faith in the players to show their customary grace, humor and jocular (if hungover) positivity..starting with John Scott.

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  9. I've slowly started to feel they should do away with the ASG altogether. Just let the league name the all stars, give the players a weekend off, and get on with life.

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  10. Yes, Yes, and Yes!! Unfortunately, the NHL doesn't have an "embarrassed gene".......

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  11. As usual, excellent take and sums up the situation nicely. The all-star game is a joke, so I have no problem treating it like a joke. But lets not pretend John Scott was voted in for any other reason that people though he'd be the funniest choice to watch skate 3-3.

    I'm not a big fan of his (you linked a great example, but he also got a 7-game for a predatory hit on Eriksson, 2 games for coming of the bench to maul Tim Jackman, attempted Kessel fight, etc.), but that said he's handled this fairly well all things considered.

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  12. Sean, I just want to read more of your articles. I don't care about the platform. I hope you land a good deal somewhere, you deserve it!

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  13. I have simulated the all star game ever since I had the option (Nhl 95?) and shown even less interest for the actual events. I prefer a real exciting hockey game.

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  15. Looking at your Blog Archive listing on my screen. You posted 175 articles in 2015? You deserve the 2 week holiday. Thanks for all you do.

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  16. So now that it's a lock and he's playing, why not support the positive storyline yourself, in case he reads this? You're more proud to share your thought? It's not a unique thought.

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  17. they shouldn't be mad about john scott making it
    they should be mad that the system makes it advantageous for internet campaigns to easily nominate someone
    only reason they haven't changed the 10 votes per account per day is because they like saying someone has 15million votes or whatever
    maybe if they actually ran ads featuring players, like vote for your local star, leo komarov! instead of always focusing on the team, there would be more people voting for candidates the media deems "acceptable"

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  18. you know how much the players enjoy the All-Star game when a couple of years back Winnipeg couldn't get any of their players to go to the game - and local media was all upset that not a single Jet was invited. they where all invited, the players where more interested in a weekend someplace warm and sunny than at the All-Star game.

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  19. The classy thing to do would be for Scott to acknowledge that he doesn't deserve it and knows it's a joke, and therefore he won't be participating. Problem solved, no awkwardness.

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  20. On the one hand we are sad that you are no longer at ESPN or Grantland. On the other hand, hey, Comments! Your writing has always been entertaining but the comments were often equally so. And there is the hipster vibe of coming somewhere off the beaten path.

    Do keep posting your writing here. Otherwise I'll have to start actually doing my work first thing in the morning.

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  21. There's going to be a hardest punch contest this year. What's the fuss?

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  22. Next year, why don't we all figure out a way to vote Gary Bettman into the All-Star game? It'd be the one chance we'd have to see him get what he deserves ...

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  23. I have an interesting idea - how about getting Don Cherry to coach one of the teams? Grapes coaching rock'em sock'em hockey would be entertaining.

    I am just glad there is a Sean McIndoe, wherever it is published. And Mike from Philadelphia is still an idiot.

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  24. It ended up being a feel-good story, as he kept up just fine and scored two goals. And not two goals in the All-Star game we are used to. These games were played like real games. Everyone was actually trying to win. And in the end he won it all. He turned the joke around on everyone that voted him in.

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  25. النمل الابيض من الحشرات التى لابد من القيام باعمال المكافحة والقضاء عليها على الفور فانت الان تمتلك افضل الشركات التى تتعانل مع مكافحة اى نوع من انواع الحشرات المتواجدة فى المكان على اعلى مستوى متميز فاذا كنت فى اى مكان فى الرياض او خارج الرياض وتعانى من خدمات المكافحة التقليدية او تعانى من انتشار النمل الابيض وتعانى من الطرق التقليدية فى المكافحة و القضاء عليها فانت الان بحاجه الى القيام باعمال المكافحة والقضاء التام على الحشرات فلا تتردد فى التواصل والتعاقد معنا الان فى القيام بكل ذلك فنحن على اتم استعداد للوصول الى اى مكان فى الرياض او خارج الرياض الان
    تعتمد شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بالرياض على افضل العماله المدربة المميزة المتواجده فى الاسواق والتى تساعد فى القيام باعمال المكافحة بناءا على تدريب ووعى كامل من قبل عملاءنا الكرام بالاضافة الى ان الشركة تعتمد على عدد من الخبراء والاستشارين الزراعين فى حتاله التعرض الى النمل الابيض فى المحاصيل الزراعيه فتاكد ان الشركة تساعد فى اعمال المكافحة والتخلص التام من الحشرات الان شركة مكافحة نمل ابيض بالرياض .

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