The X-Files: John Scott trade conspiracy edition


(Some of this information is absolutely true, and some of this is absolutely informed speculation.)

[INT – The Bowels of FBI Headquarters, unexplained phenomena section. An agent, FOX MULDER, pours over jaggedly clipped out pages from The Hockey News. His partner, DANA SCULLY, enters the claustrophobic room.]

“Mulder, what is it?”

“Are you familiar with the John Scott anomaly, Scully?”

“Do you mean the election of the Arizona Coyotes’ fourth-line pugilist as a National Hockey All-Star Game captain by a consortium of podcasters, social media miscreants and something called Reddit, all of whom make the Lone Gunmen look like One Direction when it comes to social comportment and basic grooming?”

“That’s right, Scully. His captaincy in the Pacific Division was a major embarrassment to the NHL and the organizers of the All-Star Game, threatening to ruin the carefully crafted 3 players vs. 3 players tournament that was the event’s latest incarnation. At first it appeared Scott would decline to attend, but after speaking with family, peers and searching his own conscience, he decided to embrace it. So the wheels were put in motion by a shadowy conspiracy to remove him from the event.”

“A shadowy conspiracy, Mulder?”

“Yes, Scully. The Arizona Coyotes asked him to pull out of the game, for the sake of getting one of their forwards that plays more than seven minutes a night into that spotlight. Some of his teammates also felt the spot should go to Max Domi or Shane Doan, although they didn’t always voice that to Scott. The NHL asked him to pull out of the game as well. Scott was offered a trip to Nashville for his family. He may have even been offered money commensurate with what his winning share would have been – an off-the-books payment, hockey hush money.”

“So why didn’t he just pull out of the game, Mulder? Why not take the money and the trip and thank the fans for their effort?”

“Have you ever seen how I react when told not to do something, Scully?”

“Not well. It usually ends with us running from helicopters.”

“Exactly. But it was more than that, Scully. It was a man who felt he had been wronged by the very league that employed him, by virtue of the way he played their game. On Oct. 31, 2013, Scott was suspended seven games for an illegal check to the head of Loui Eriksson. He forfeited $26,923.05. On Oct. 27, 2014, Scott was suspended two games for leaving the bench illegally to fight Tim Jackman. He forfeited $17,073.18. On Dec. 24, 2014, he was suspended four games for punching an unsuspecting Jackman in the face. He forfeited $34,146.36. That’s $78,000 in lost wages over the last two years. But it wasn’t just the money, Scully – it was the chance for some symbolic retaliation against those suspensions, and a chance to represent those players that have been marginalized by the League’s contradictory rules.”

“That’s all fine Mulder, but why did you call me here?”

“Because John Scott may have vanished from the All-Star Game, Scully. Due to the work of a shadowy conspiracy.”

“As if there’s any other kind.”

“He was traded by the Coyotes on Friday to the Montreal Canadiens in a package for Mark Tinordi, and the Canadiens promptly demoted him to St. Johns of the American Hockey League with speculation that his minor league status makes him ineligible for the All-Star Game. Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said 'this wasn’t about the all-star game' and that it was a business decision, yet they pushed for him to be included in the trade. For his defiance, Scott was banished to a dark place of utter horror and lost souls: Newfoundland.”

“But why does Montreal make this deal, Mulder? And why doesn’t Maloney just demote him to the AHL?”

“Perhaps because of a logjam on the Canadiens’ blue line, Scully. Perhaps to move the conversation away from domestic violence and Alex Galchenyuk and onto trading away a former first-round pick and acquiring a notorious goon. Perhaps because they’re in a coach-killing tailspin. But to your second question, Scully: Plausible deniability. A trade is easier to explain to Coyotes fans who supported Scott than burying him in the AHL themselves for the sake of keeping him out of the All-Star Game. But the conspiracy goes much farther than that.”

“The White House, Mulder?”

“A boy should be so lucky, Scully. No, it goes to … Nashville, Tennessee.”

“Site of the 2016 National Hockey League All-Star Game, Mulder?”

“Yes, Scully. You see, the Canadiens didn’t want defenseman Stefan Elliott in the trade, as he’s a restricted free agent. They wanted an expiring contract, but a viable player. So a third team got involved on this trade: The Nashville Predators, who traded pending UFA Victor Bartley to the Coyotes, who then traded Bartley and Scott to Montreal. The same Nashville Predators that are hoping their city’s All-Star Game is a financial windfall. The same Nashville Predators whose general manager David Poile said of the fan campaign to get Scott in the event: ‘If he was to make the All-Star Game, that would be, with all due respect, not an appropriate situation.’”

“So he helped make that situation disappear.”

“Right, Scully. One team hosting the event John Scott would have ‘ruined.’ One team that was handpicked to appear in the NHL’s Winter Classic this year. One team whose sole existence was predicated on the NHL fully funding it for multiple seasons after bankruptcy, forcing a player who defied its will to be included in a trade that would undoubtedly negate his eligibility for the All-Star Game, so they could feature a more ‘worthy’ player.”

“All under the encouraging eye of a League that purposefully minimized the promotion and tabulation of the All-Star vote because they were embarrassed by Scott’s election. I have to tell you, Mulder: As conspiracy theories go, this is one of your most plausible. Which really isn’t saying much.”

“But it doesn’t end there, Scully. There are forces. Forces beyond our recognition. Forces that been meticulously manipulating us, preying on skepticism and our own government’s obfuscation. This conspiracy is, ultimately, the work of…”

“…please don’t say extra…”

“Extraterrestrial beings.”

[Scully sighs deeply.]


Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.