I Watched The NHL All-Star Game. I Hated It.

I watched the NHL All Star Game.

I hated it.

Long before social media, these types of events were fraught with excitement. It felt organic to the viewer because, quite frankly, the polish didn’t need to be shiny, the veneer translucent, or the sheen remarkable. They were about our players, our teams, our moments rather than re-digested and fabricated situations. Timeless moments were captured before our eyes, and placed on our walls via posterized versions. With so many sports snippets calibrated for millennials the creation of so-called All Star moments happen daily, and at almost every hour. Gfycat, Vine, Periscope, and Twitter Video are incredible things, they really are. Yet we just aren’t “wowed” anymore, and that’s okay.

So I watched Little Pavelski and Little Burns score on a breakaway. I giggled at the Chewbacca bit. I continued to the love speedy Larkin. I thought the 3-on-3 format was amusing. But it all felt like a generic product. One seen often and quickly dismissed. In terms of the game and festivities – I hated it.

But there was John Scott.

It is rare that one human being can elevate something. There was his family nearby cheering him on. His goofy smile more predominant than the number on his sweater. Content to publicly jab the league while being simultaneously grateful. Dissing Jeremy Roenick rinkside then shaking hands with Gary Bettman. I get it, this was a big deal for him. There’s no denying this fact. But more than anything, and perhaps selfishly so, this was a big deal for the fans.

John Scott became a man of the people. Voted by the fans who secretly wanted to pull the sweater over the head of the league’s “proper” All Star voting procedures. But unlike that time when a bunch of Red Wings were voted in, this was a statement of true solidarity. The fans versus the man. As stupid as this sounds, it worked, and we suddenly forgot about the cheap shot, fist-heavy tendencies of Scott. Instead he was to be a quick one-two punch to the gut of an NHL that is distancing itself from these types of players, and maybe a bit from their foundational roots.

But John Scott was a special kind of All Star. Very few NHL players, including outliers like this one, could fill such an exciting void. Elevating the watch-ability to new heights. The NHL was slow to realize this, but ultimately correct to embrace it (they really had no choice). Scott is a personable every-man that really isn’t like every-man. Unpolished, but smart. Boisterous, but respectful. The culmination of Scott being voted into the ASG, and his existence as a hockey player were a beautiful thing of space and time. This guy, at this moment, on this stage produced those home grown fireworks we had been waiting so long to see. And did finally experience.

Don’t think for a moment that the NHL and fans won’t try to allow/vote another lowly player to the ASG. This is a league that has a terrible long term memory, and a faulty short term one. Like the Winter Classic, it will become tired and cliche. And I’m not sure there is another John Scott circa 2016 lying around out there. The moment, and the guy were that special. The grassroots campaign hit a sweet harmony that will be nearly impossible to duplicate.

I continue to hate just about every version of the All Star Game, not just in hockey. However, I love the potential for true greatness which doesn’t come from the Benn’s or the Seguin’s or the Hall’s or the Malkin’s, but from a genuine appreciation for fans and the sport of hockey. I’m not comfortable calling this a humanizing story because that title swings both ways. After all, and unfortunately, Patrick Kane is a humanizing story. Instead, I’ll call it a hero story not because Scott is a heroic figure by nature, but because the ideology of courage is a rare thing. For Scott to be the person he is might just be courageous in and of itself. Lost in a whirlwind of “we played a team game” and “it is an honor to be here” that typically drip from the mouths of our All Stars was John Scott. A goofy fella, but a deserving hero. One that we may never see on this stage again.

8 comments on “I Watched The NHL All-Star Game. I Hated It.”

  1. OK, I’m biased because Scott was an Aero. Slower than molasses and next to zero offensive skills, but an Aero none the less.

    I did watch most of the All-Star game for a change, usually I ignore it. I guess the change was made because the game had become such a joke – like a 12 year-old’s idea of hockey or something that looked like a game of NHL 2016 had just been played . Thus the 14-10 endings.

    The game became a joke since nobody was willing to body check, blockshots, or make an effort on a save for fear of injury. So the league, “bless their heart”, decided to adopt a format where body checking really isn’t the greatest idea and put some cash on the line to motivate skater and goalie alike.

    But the result is still something less than NHL hockey. It’s just one big overtime period.
    If you need to change the rules and format so much to get something barely worth putting on TV, maybe you are better off just cancelling the whole thing and extending the skills competition. Even then, please get rid of the breakaway challenge. It’s looking too much like the NBA slam dunk competition. Did I ever mention how much I don’t like the NBA, primarily because it is so over-hyped (not to mention the gang culture has taken over)?

    1. I just think the “All Star” mentality suffers from the instant gratification world we live in. The NBA dunk contest used to be an incredible event of skill, but because we see game-time dunks aplenty it has lost a bit of its luster. In terms of the NHL, this season’s ASG was watchable because of John Scott which had nothing to do with hockey at all — rather a good underdog story. THIS is what makes these things great.

  2. I actually enjoyed last night’s All Star Game more than any in recent history regardless of the sport. I think the 3-on-3 was exciting and really put the focus on how skilled those guys truly are. The John Scott story was just an added bonus. I’m not a fan of any All Star Game, but I’ll continue to watch the hockey version moving forward. That’s more that I can say about any of the others.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! And thanks for the comment. Do you think, though, that the 3-on-3 was a gimmick hook? One that will quickly cause most people to lose interest? I certainly tuned in for the John Scott of it all, and was mildly amused by some things, but mostly disappointed (as expected)

  3. It’s funny. For as much crap that was tossed from both sides of the John Scott issue, for me, these games were some of the most entertaining to watch. Maybe the NHL should allow a “dark horse” candidate for every All-Star game.

      1. I remember Winston Churchill saying something to the effect that democracy seems to be the best form of government until you talk 5 minutes with the average voter.

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