Nobody looks good in John Scott fiasco
GLENDALE, Ariz. — TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie dropped a bomb on Friday when he suggested the Coyotes’ decision to trade John Scott to the Montreal Canadiens was orchestrated to rid the NHL and the Coyotes of an All-Star Game headache.
We’re not prone to conspiracy theories. Too often, they are hatched by people with too little information and too much imagination.
McKenzie is not one of those people.
If there is a more respected and more connected voice in hockey media, we can’t name them. When considering the merits of McKenzie’s take, an equally respected colleague noted: “One thing with Bob, though: he doesn’t guess.”
We’ll probably never see definitive proof of this master scheme, but the residual effect is that nobody comes away looking good: not the league, not the Coyotes, not the media members who sparked this candidacy, not the fans and not even Scott.
The league could have solved this mess by amending its fan-voting process earlier. Fan votes will never go away entirely because fan votes mean fan engagement and removing that engagement essentially tells fans they are not worthy of making such decisions, even if it’s sometimes true.
Once Scott was voted in, the league should have done the classy thing and bit the bullet, allowing him to participate in what is, after all, a meaningless game. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted that Scott and his family were offered a ticket to the All-Star weekend, but participation in the game was not part of that vacation package.
If the league did orchestrate this move, it put the Coyotes in a no-win situation. They couldn’t tell the truth and whatever else they said would be met with skepticism or worse. There’s also the nagging truth that the timing of this deal looks absolutely awful from a Coyotes perspective with the All-Star Game less than three weeks away.
During Friday’s Insider Trading segment on TSN, McKenzie told host James Duthie that the Canadiens wanted no part of Scott, but the Coyotes insisted he be included in the deal. Here’s what general manager Don Maloney had to say when addressing the deal that sent Scott and defenseman Victor Bartley to Montreal for defenseman Jarred Tinordi and forward Stefan Fournier. It was a defense that a substantial portion of the population wasn’t buying.
“This wasn’t about the All-Star Game,” Maloney said. “John was good soldier for us and did his job well, but we have to run our business. To make the finances of this deal work we had to include John Scott in the deal.”
If Scott hadn’t been selected as an All-Star, this deal would have merited only a minor mention with a few bloggers taking the opportunity to once again mock Scott. Which brings us to another point: the genesis of this All-Star vote.
When hockey media members Jeff Marek and Greg Wyshynski floated the idea of Scott as an All-Star, Marek thought it might point out the flaws in the All-Star fan voting process while Wyshynshi took it a step further by noting “I want to watch John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes lug (himself) up and down the rink in a 3-on-3 tournament with the best offensive players in the world.”
There are enough incidents in Scott’s past that warrant criticism, but openly mocking a player for his abilities seems gratuitous and mean-spirited.
“You’re funny. We get it,” Scott noted at the time. “But I’m still a person.”
Remember, Scott didn’t ask for any of this, and in many ways, he’s handled himself with more class than anyone else involved in this sordid affair. If he really wanted to stay classy, however, Scott would have stepped aside and allowed a more deserving teammate to play in the game. McKenzie reported that both the league and the Coyotes asked him to do so and he refused.
We understand that the All-Star Game is rife with players who pull out, players who don’t take it seriously, players who would rather be in Cabo. That’s not the case with the Coyotes. Their three leading All-Star candidates, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, forward Max Domi and captain Shane Doan would all love to play in the game; all would legitimately consider it an honor.
We have been told for years that Scott is a great teammate; a guy universally loved by players everywhere he’s played. If that’s true, Scott should have done the right thing and stepped aside. That’s what a good teammate does, right?
The final culprits in this mess are some of the fans. It was amusing to witness their righteous indignation on Twitter at the thought of Scott losing his All-Star spot. “The league isn’t honoring its system. The league is making a mockery of the game.”
Sorry, but you don’t get to claim the moral high ground when you’ve made a joke of the system yourself by voting in a candidate nobody can defend as a logical All-Star choice; in many cases with the full intent of making it a joke.
When the Coyotes signed Scott this offseason, we questioned the wisdom of such a move for a team looking to improve. The Coyotes defended the signing by labeling him a policeman for their young players. The problem is, it’s hard to police the ice when your coach doesn’t trust you enough to put you on it.
Scott played in just 11 games this season and logged more than eight minutes in just one of them. He never had an impact on the ice, but the decision to sign him had more impact off the ice than anyone could have imagined or desired.
Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter