By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The NHL is no stranger to shady behavior, such as commissioner Gary Bettman saying as recently as this past year that there is “no evidence” that concussions suffered from playing hockey can lead to CTE.
But even for the NHL, this might be a new low.
John Scott, the NHL enforcer who was voted into this year’s All-Star Game by the fans, wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune in which he described the origins of his hockey career as well as his feelings about being an all-star.
In the story, Scott shares a conversation he had with “someone from the NHL” who was pressuring him to back out of the All-Star Game.
So when someone from the NHL calls me and says, “Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?”
… That’s when they lost me.
That was it, right there. That was the moment.
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.
This is, mind you, a man who lays his body on the line night in and night out for a league that is worth billions. Scott now plays in the organization for the Montreal Canadiens, a franchise worth $1.175 billion, according to Forbes.
For his work, Scott is making $700,000 per year.
It’s not chump change, to be sure, but considering his career could end on any one punch, Scott certainly has the right to make his own decisions.
Yet the NHL wanted to take his all-star status away from him, and they invoked the feelings of his own children to do it. There’s not much that could possibly be lower than that.
Scott was voted to be an all-star by the fans, and he will be playing in Sunday’s All-Star Game, thanks in large part to public backlash the league faced after the Coyotes traded Scott to the Canadiens, who in turn sent him to the minors. It’s widely been believed that the trade was made so that the NHL could avoid the embarrassment of having a non-skill player in its All-Star Game, and that seems to be a theory to which Scott himself subscribes.
“Enforcers don’t get traded midseason when their team is winning,” he said. “If you know the league, you know that it just doesn’t happen.”
Adding to the complication of getting traded: Scott is a father of two girls, and his wife is nine months pregnant with twins. Moving from Phoenix to Newfoundland isn’t exactly a cinch.
The full story is absolutely worth reading on The Players’ Tribune, as it provides a picture of the full life of the NHL enforcer, from his childhood when he was a Bruins fan, through his days studying engineering at Michigan Tech, though his early days as a pro through his NHL career.
But most of all, Scott is in on the joke that he’s not an all-star type of player. But that doesn’t mean he should be made to feel like he’s not allowed to participate in an event in which fans voted him to play:
This isn’t Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’m not some random person off the street, and I didn’t win a golden ticket to “play hockey with the stars.” I won an internet fan vote, sure. And at some point, without question, it was a joke. It might even finish as a joke. But it didn’t start as one. It started with a very small pool, out of a very small pool, out of the very, very smallest pool of hockey players in the world: NHLers. That was the vote. A fan vote, an internet vote — but a vote from among the 700 or so best hockey players in North American professional sports.
And I’m one of them.
And that didn’t happen because of the internet. I busted my ass to be one of them. I’ve skated every day since I was three years old to be one of them. I’ve persevered through Juniors roster cuts, Alaskan bus rides, Advanced Dynamics exams, and — yes — fights, to be one of them.
But I’m one of them. And that means a lot to me.
It means a lot to my family.
Scott will suit up for the All-Star Game on Sunday in Nashville.
His kids will most certainly be proud.