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The NHL Reached a New Low By Leveraging John Scott's Kids Against Him

Someone at the NHL with too much power and not enough vision sabotaged Scott's life in extremely vile fashion. The league offices need a cleansing.
Photo by Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

This article originally appeared on VICE Sports Canada.

The National Hockey League isn't known for its sense of humor—heck, it's barely known, which is what makes the John Scott saga such an overwhelmingly upsetting reflection of the league as a whole.

The Players' Tribune allowed for Scott to tell the story of his All-Star selection and the subsequent effort by the NHL to get him to deter voters and withdraw from the game once he was selected. Here's the portion that makes you question the humanity of the people who make the crucial decisions in the league office:


READ MORE: John Scott and the Most Unlikely All-Stars in NHL History

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.

Can you imagine the rarified levels of self-importance and lack of self-awareness required to make that phone call? To tell someone they are about to become an embarrassment to their children because they are going to play in an exhibition game? To hold something that hasn't mattered to anyone in two decades so high that you'd be willing to take a swipe at a guy as a father in order to shame him out of participating?

The NHL offices need a cleansing. Someone needs to take inventory of who actively conspired to have Scott removed from the game and have them escorted by building security from the New York or Toronto offices and allow the league to start anew. It's dangerous from an economic standpoint to have this many incompetent people running a billion-dollar business; there are the players, yeah, but there are regular folks making $60K a year that have their continued employment hinging on decisions made by the type of people who felt Scott being voted into an All-Star Game was a detriment to the sport.


Take it from someone who was employed at the NHL for more than five years—protecting the shield is the primary mission and it tends to occur at all costs. Self-deprecation is as rare as an All-Star Game fans care about. The NHL is more brand than sports league now and if it feels someone or something is a danger to the brand, very highly paid people will spring to action to protect that brand.

And, in theory, there's nothing wrong with circling the wagons when things are going poorly. You and I may differ on the idea of failing to report critical news on the league's website, things as extreme as Patrick Kane's sexual assault allegations or as commonplace as a player decrying officiating. To me, a sports league pretending highly reported things aren't happening isn't a good idea, but you can understand the rationale.

The problem with the Scott situation is the league went into attack mode over the best piece of free publicity it has received in a decade and, if you believe Scott, used its full weight to disrupt the life of a man with a wife that's perhaps breaths away from birthing twins. Sure, it reflects poorly on the drivers of this plan from a human standpoint but it's also a bad look from a running the sixth-most-popular-sports-league-in-North-America look.

The league went into attack mode over the best piece of free publicity it has received in a decade. —Photo by Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

There is no smoking gun that reveals the NHL applied pressure to have the Arizona Coyotes trade Scott to the Montreal Canadiens but there is enough evidence to indicate it may have happened.


TSN's Bob McKenzie isn't one to regularly take the NHL to task over controversial issues, so when he tweeted this on the day Scott was dealt, even if it was only inferred, it was pretty damning:

John Scott was previously asked by both NHL and Arizona Coyotes to bow out of NHL All-Star Game. He refused. Trade likely takes care of that

— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie)January 15, 2016

When Habs general manager Marc Bergevin was asked why he acquired Scott, he was evasive.

— John Lu (@JohnLuTSNMtl)January 21, 2016

Scott also alluded to his beliefs about the deal:

Enforcers don't get traded midseason when their team is winning. If you know the league, you know that it just doesn't happen.

And I try not to think about how I should have known.

Or about how my teammate called it—literally called it—way back before all of this got crazy.

How he texted me, "Dude, you're 30th in the All-Star fan vote," one night, out of the blue.

And then, how he added:

"They'll never let you play, John. They're never going to let you be there. Not a guy like you."

The All-Star Weekend kicks off Friday and, despite the league's best efforts, Scott will be there. In yet another staggering reveal of the league's ineptitude and stubbornness, it still hasn't fully embraced his presence at the event. There's no coverage of Scott, the unlikeliest All-Star participant in league history, on's home page. The NHL's Twitter account has tweeted twice about Scott since his selection—once to his player page and a second time just to let everyone know he was still playing after it looked like he was getting screwed.


In typical NHL fashion, the league is ignoring it but fans are reveling in it.

Scott's T-shirt jersey sold out four days before the game and he was a trending topic for most of the afternoon Thursday due his Players' Tribune story, one that has been retweeted more than 9,000 times in its original form as of the time of this post. This should have been an expected, welcomed result for the NHL, considering Scott was the game's leading vote getter until the league—you can't make this up—decided to hide the final vote numbers.

The NHL had harmless publicity fall in its lap and its reaction was to ship it to Newfoundland.

The NHL has created a culture where fighters are adored by fans. The league may publicly state that it doesn't endorse fighting but it continues to exist as the only professional sports league that at least allows it with minimal deterrents. And, if we are being honest, fight bells ringing and Rocky theme music playing in arenas during fights speak to how the league is perfectly OK with fans loving the idea of one man punching another man it the face.

That is, until the fans' love manifests itself in the form of millions of votes to have that fighter be involved in an All-Star Game.

Someone at the NHL with too much power and not enough vision sabotaged a man's life and nearly deprived fans of the one thing they wanted to see at an All-Star Game, and did so in extremely vile fashion, attempting to use Scott's kids against him.

If that's not enough incompetency to get that person dismissed, maybe it's enough to get them traded to the AHL.