NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — John Scott, the career journeyman enforcer who was surprisingly voted into the NHL All-Star game by fans, said he got a call from someone at the league who tried to talk him out of playing in the showcase event this Sunday.
According to Scott, someone with the NHL asked him: “Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?”
Scott described the incident in a first-person account posted Thursday by The Players Tribune. The 6-foot-8, 260-pound Scott said that moment strengthened his resolve to play in the 3-on-3 format with some of the best hockey players in the world.
“Because, while I may not deserve to be an NHL All-Star, I know I deserve to be the judge of what my kids will — and won’t — be proud of me for,” wrote the 33-year-old Scott, who has two daughters.
Messages seeking comment on Scott’s assertions were left with NHL officials.
The essay from Scott is the latest twist in an odd story that has put the league in an awkward situation. Like other professional leagues, the NHL uses its All-Star game to showcase its top players and Scott, by his own admission, is not among that group.
The sparingly used player has scored just five goals since his NHL debut in 2009. He played for the Arizona Coyotes when he was named an All-Star, but was later stunned by a trade to Montreal, which sent him for its AHL affiliate in Newfoundland.
Scott wrote that he wasn’t in “a real hockey fight,” until he was 23. He embraced dropping his gloves during his third year in the AHL after finding out he was good at fighting, it fired up his teammates and extended his career.
“I stuck around,” Scott wrote. “My wife and I had to move all across the country, year after year.
But I stayed in the NHL, by any means necessary. It is not easy.”
Scott has played for Minnesota, Chicago, the New York Rangers, Buffalo, San Jose and Arizona. He played in a career-high 56 games with the Sabres two years ago, and scored a career-high three goals last season with the Sharks. Scott hasn’t averaged double digits in ice time during an NHL season.
At first, Scott wrote, he accepted the league’s position that he didn’t belong in the All-Star game.
“They didn’t mince words — This is not a game for you, John — but I understood all the same,”Scott wrote. “Honestly, on some level, I agreed. In the beginning, at least, I just wanted the entire thing to go away.”
“So when they asked me to make a statement — nudging the fan vote in another direction and denouncing the John Scott ‘movement’ — I did it without hesitation,” he added. “I told the fans, ‘Listen. I don’t deserve this. Vote for my teammates.’ And I was telling the truth. But while I don’t deserve to be an All-Star, I also don’t think I deserve to be treated like I’ve been by the league throughout this saga. I’m an NHL player — and, whatever my set of skills may be, that I’m an NHL player is no accident.”