By Shannon Cole
He doesn’t skate the fastest or shoot the hardest, even though he’s an intimidating 6-foot-8 inches tall before he laces up his skates.
He barely scores goals for his team, and he’s got more penalty minutes this season than goals in his entire hockey career. He’s never won a Stanley Cup nor any individual awards.
But after seeing him play in the National Hockey League’s All-Star Game last month, John Scott is my favorite hockey player.
For a guy who gets paid to rearrange faces, it’s surprising to learn that he’s a very beloved guy.
Teammates past and present revere Scott for his great attitude. He makes his team laugh in the locker room, he is a committed teammate on the ice and he is a devoted father to his daughters.
Once, in college when a teammate put a dead deer in the gentle giant’s bedroom, Scott responded by taking the carcass outside and propping it up on a buddy’s motorcycle. The man can take a joke. Too bad the NHL can’t.
A Star is Born
John Scott’s participation in the NHL All-Star Game began as a joke. When the hosts of the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast floated the idea of using the NHL’s All-Star Game fan vote to get an unexpected player from the fourth line into the game, fans made it happen.
Scott was quickly elected captain of the Pacific Division’s all-star contingent, and all was well in the hockey world—briefly.
That’s when the League stepped in. In a shocking display of unsportsmanlike conduct, the NHL asked Scott to not attend the game the fans voted him into.
John Scott decided to stick it to the man: he was going to go to the All-Star Game no matter what.
When he refused to sit it out, they instead forced him to accept a trade from his NHL team in Arizona to the developmental American Hockey League, making him move away from his pregnant wife and two toddlers all the way to St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Switching leagues also disqualified him from competing in the NHL All-Star Game, since he was no longer an NHLer.
A league official even phoned Scott and asked him, “What will your daughters think if you go?”
That’s probably the point when John Scott decided to stick it to the man: he was going to go to the All-Star Game no matter what.
Scott knew he had earned his right to represent his team, his family and the other third and fourth line players on the game’s biggest stage and he wasn’t going to let someone strongarm him out of it. He is, after all, one of the tough guys.
Most Valuable Player
Near the end of the All-Star Game, the broadcast and in-arena display urged fans to tweet their vote for the game’s most valuable player, but there was one problem: none of the options were John Scott.
The fans inside Bridgestone Arena immediately booed, then started chanting “John Scott! John Scott!”
The official Twitter accounts of NHL teams defied the NHL’s suggestions for MVPs and instead tweeted their support for Scott.
After a few tense moments and a commercial break that seemed to last forever, the league’s commissioner and representatives from sponsors presented John Scott with his MVP trophy, the keys to a brand new minivan and the grand prize: an enormous John Scott-sized check for $1 million.
Man of the People
Seeing John Scott unafraid to back down from the league’s pressure inspired me. Like John Scott, most of us go to work, do our jobs and get adequate compensation. But we rarely get the spectacle and honor afforded to the stars. In the all-star game of life, most of us are John Scotts: our best shot at being a success is to be voted in as a joke.
Sports, like life, are more interesting when there’s a diverse group of people involved. Sports need players that serve a purpose—the star, the defender, the enforcer—in order for the system to work.
Without John Scott, that All-Star Game would have been pretty boring, just a bunch of skilled showoffs doing what we expected them to do.
I really identify with people who do what they believe in despite the obstacles. When someone tells me that I’m not allowed to participate in something just because the powers that be aren’t into the idea of having someone like me around, it makes me want to be there even more.
As a little girl I was told that the things I liked—racing, dirt bikes, hockey—weren’t for girls. As an adult, I still like those things and still run into people who think I shouldn’t. Go ahead and try to trade me: I’m going to stick around like John Scott.
And so should you. Be like John Scott. Be someone that lives and works hard every day to make your family proud and who puts what you love and stand for above all else. Be yourself, do your own thing and don’t care what anyone else says. If you keep it up long enough, others will take notice. You may not get a giant check for it, but at least you’ll know that somebody somewhere thinks you’re an all-star.
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