John Scott 'welcome' at NHL All-Star Game, Bettman says
Enforcer claimed league didn't want him to play
John Scott expects the NHL to change the fan vote for the all-star game to keep someone like himself from ever being picked again. For now, he is busy soaking up every minute of his very unexpected weekend with some of the world's best hockey players.
"They should do something if they don't want this to happen again," Scott said Friday at media day. "I think it's a good thing for the game. It's gotten a lot of publicity. It's gotten a lot of people excited to watch the game, so you never know. It could be a good thing."
Fans voted the six-foot-eight Scott as captain of the Pacific Division, though Arizona traded him to Montreal and he is now at the Canadiens' AHL affiliate in Newfoundland. In an essay posted Thursday on The Players Tribune, Scott said someone at the NHL tried to talk him out of participating in the all-star game this weekend.
Hoping to defuse an awkward situation that has hovered over preparations for the league's showcase event, Commissioner Gary Bettman talked with the career enforcer and told him he is welcome here. Bettman told The Associated Press he had a nice chat with Scott on Thursday night.
"And he's more than welcome to be here," Bettman said. "We're happy he's here. The fans spoke, and we're happy to reflect their will."
Scott called it a quick talk with the commissioner and that he felt Bettman was worried he would be uncomfortable.
"He said, 'We're happy you're here. We wanted you to be here and let's go have fun and you know our sport's behind you.' It was nice hearing that coming from him because there was a time when I was not really sure the league felt (that)," Scott said. "He kind of put those thoughts to rest."
The NHL allowed fans to vote for the captain of each of its four divisions as the league switches to a 3-on-3 format for this all-star game. Last season, Latvian fans rallied the Internet to vote native son and Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons into the all-star game in Columbus, Ohio.
Scott wrote that he accepted the league's position that he didn't belong in the all-star game — at first.
The enforcer 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.
Then Scott wrote someone with the NHL asked him: "Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?"
The 33-year-old Scott has two daughters, and his wife is expecting twins within the next couple weeks. That incident only strengthened his resolve to play Sunday.
Scott was asked if anyone with the league followed up with him about that comment about his children not being proud, and he said no. Asked if he expects anyone from the NHL to come forward over that comment, Scott simply said, "No."