The NHL isn’t exactly setting the table for John Scott, NHL All-Star: Part Two, but the league doesn’t appear to be all that interested in getting in the way of the fans having their say when it comes to All-Star Game captains.
After the 2016 All-Star Game’s voting was taken over by fans in order to get Scott, he of five goals and 11 career points in 286 games, sent to the mid-season exhibition, there was some belief that the NHL may try to alter voting in time for the 2017 All-Star Game in Los Angeles. However, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the league isn’t going to stop fans who want to get behind another write-in candidate.
“It was controversial, to say the least, but it worked out very well for John Scott and the league,” Friedman said of the situation. “It was a great show in Nashville. I think, since then, we’ve all wondered would the league do something about this, would the league change the voting so there couldn’t be another write-in candidate? I’m told there’s going to be no substantive changes to all-star balloting.”
It’s somewhat surprising the league wouldn’t try to regain control of the balloting in some way after Scott’s candidacy caused such an uproar, both positive and negative, but, as Friedman pointed out, Scott’s eventual participation was a huge success and saw fans give tremendous support to the veteran winger. Even though he attended the game without truly representing an NHL team — he appeared in the contest after he was traded away from the Pacific Division’s Arizona Coyotes, whom he was a member of when voted captain — he was named the game’s MVP and was an overwhelming fan favorite.
But even with the option open to fans again, it seems unlikely that there will be a repeat of the Scott situation. There’s no single player who represents quite what Scott did, and, like anything else, there’s no replicating the original feeling or emotion that was tied to the Scott decision.
That said, it does open the door for several players to get a last hurrah on the all-star stage or give some fan favorites an opportunity to have a run as an all-star captain. Veterans such as Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan or Matt Cullen could be playing in their final seasons fit the former category, and the likes of Phil Kessel, Roberto Luongo or even a journeyman such as Lee Stempniak could get a deserving nod when they otherwise might not be heading to the game.
Whoever the write-in candidate is, though, it will be hard to ever match the combination of bizarre online support, ridiculous controversy and fan love that surrounded Scott. That’s likely the reason the league isn’t too concerned about making changes to the fans’ vote.
And even in the off-chance there’s a Scott-esque captain, there are worse things in the hockey world than a fun storyline heading into a meaningless game.
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