The NHL might despise it. The players might think it turns a joke of a game into an even bigger punchline, and many fans would agree with them.
But in the grand list of “reasons to care about the 2016 NHL All-Star Game,” watching John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes lug his ass up and down the rink in a 3-on-3 tournament with the best offensive players in the world ranks near the top. Right next to "watching John Scott in the breakaway skills competition challenge."
We mentioned this scenario on our podcast right after the 3-on-3 format was announced, and championed the idea since then. Other podcasts backed the notion too, and Reddit threw the awesome power of its fully armed and operational battle station behind the effort. As a result, John Scott was third in the All-Star Game fan voting as of Tuesday morning, and rising quickly.
Yes, John Scott. Of the one assist and 18 penalty minutes in six games as a 33-year-old spare part forward for the Arizona Coyotes.
There were a few other names in the “that guy?!” category of candidates during the early All-Star Game voting for the tournament’s four divisional captains. Philadelphia Flyers fans were pushing rookie Shayne Gostisbehere. Zac Rinaldo of the Boston Bruins has more votes than Mike Hoffman and Brendan Gallagher. Pittsburgh Penguins fans were trying to push Rob Scuderi as a joke candidate; although if they really wanted to see something funny, they’d vote in Sidney Crosby to an event he doesn’t give a crap about in a season in which he isn’t playing like an All-Star.
But it’s pretty clear that John Scott has the Vote of the People, with “people” in this case being legions of Internet savvy fans with a case of snark and a taste for anarchy.
(And if the NHL does have a problem with “joke” votes, it’s because they’re a victim of their own success: Cultivating a young, tech-obsessed, activist fan base online and then being surprised when they pounce on a chance to affect something on a league level. In the new format, the NHL actually limited the fan voting to four players, with the rest of the roster filled out by Hockey Operations. It was six last season and in the previous format.)
This all started back in 2006 with the Vote For Rory campaign, in which journeyman defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick of the Vancouver Canucks received a massive push from fans but just fell short of making the cut. (Thanks to the NHL, which quietly tossed out over 100,000 votes for him.) That campaign had its virtues: The idea that a blue collar player, a well-liked “glue guy,” could have the all-star spotlight for a moment thanks to the will of the fans (and the ballot-stuffing code they’d written) was heartwarming.
Since then, there have been several other pushes in the fan voting, from the all-Canadiens vote in 2008 to Project Mayhem in 2011 to the Dan Girardi campaign that same year. Then, last season, we had Zemgus Girgensons Mania, as the Latvian born Buffalo Sabres center earned 1,574,896 votes, many from his homeland. Nearly 27 percent of all All-Star Game votes were cast outside of North America, which was up seven thousand percent from 2012.
While John Scott might not have the population of a European nation fueling his candidacy, he does have the fans’ vote early on in the process.
Can he win? Of course.
The Pacific Division doesn’t exactly have a Jaromir Jagr or Patrick Kane to capture all the popular votes. If enough fans from the other three divisions include Scott on their ballots, there’s no reason he can’t win the Pacific Division captaincy.
Should he win? Again, of course.
There are going to be some that see this candidacy as making a mockery of the process, but that shows a complete ignorance of the process. It’s not the Hart Trophy, it’s a midseason exhibition game. The fan vote isn’t based on achievement or merit, it’s based on “who do we want to see in the All-Star Game?” If that player is John Scott, then so be it: There’s absolutely no litmus test for talent or merit or stats in a fan vote. It's just, “would I want to see this player in the All-Star Game?”
And again, like many people: I want to watch John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes lug his ass up and down the rink in a 3-on-3 tournament with the best offensive players in the world.
Does John Scott want to win? That’s a question for John Scott, which we imagine he’ll be answering some time in the next 24 hours.
We want to believe the goofball that wore this shirt appreciates the irony and would accept the assignment, if only to have his family experience the NHL All-Star Game fanfare. But in the end, a joke candidacy is still a joke candidacy, and maybe he recuses himself in favor of Max Domi or something.
Hopefully not. The fans are speaking, loudly enough where it’s drowning out the grumbles from critics and the harrumphs from those people who somehow think a 3-on-3 exhibition game where the players are voted in by the same people who make “#MyPooSmellsLike” a trending topic has any semblance of “integrity.”
Vote early. Vote often. Vote for John Scott. Because no matter what they say, it’s our game and we can do as we please with it.
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