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2015-16 NHL All-Star Controversy

2015-16 NHL All-Star Controversy

Photo courtesy of Matthew Stevens of flickr.com

Going into the 2015-2016 NHL season, the league hoped that its new All-Star game format would create positive news for the league. Once an utterly boring five-on-five contest that most of the players seemed uninterested in—last year’s game was a 17-12 mockery—the league decided to shake things up.

This year, there won’t be just one All-Star game; there will be three.The Atlantic Division All-Stars will take on the Metropolitan Division All-Stars in a three-on-three battle, followed by a similar style game between the Pacific and the Central Divisions. The winners of each game will play a final match-up for the championship.

It promises to be an exciting and fun affair, but the All-Star game wound up making headlines the wrong reasons. The controversy all centers around one obscure player, and questions surrounding the motives of the NHL’s upper-management .

John Scott is far from typical All-Star material. As a matter of fact, he’s barely even an NHL-quality player. In eight NHL seasons (with six different teams) he’s amassed a grand total of five goals and six assists. Throughout his career, he was a thoroughly unremarkable defender who was barely known even by hardcore hockey fans.

Yet, the Arizona Coyotes defenseman was voted the captain of the Pacific Division team, after an online campaign encouraged fans to vote for him. In fact, not only did he win, he got the most votes of any captain, ahead of more deserving superstars like Patrick Kane and Alex Ovechkin.

Originally, this looked like a feel-good story. Here was an ordinary, unknown player getting a chance at the spotlight in the All-Star game. If it was last year, when the NHL didn’t care about the quality of its All-Star game, it’s likely it would’ve stayed that way. However, it seems the league did its best to spoil the party.

Although nothing has been definitively proven, it has been rumored in inner hockey circles that the NHL pressured the Coyotes to trade Scott to a team outside of the Pacific Division, so that he would not be eligible to be their captain. Thirteen days after the announcement, Scott was traded to the flailing Montreal Canadiens. Subsequently, the Canadiens sent him down to their minor-league team, the St. John’s IceCaps, possibly rendering him ineligible to play in the All-Star game all together.

Controversy and conspiracy ran rife after that. How, fans asked, could the league deny Scott the opportunity to play in the All-Star game? Especially since the fans voted him in, and the game is essentially meaningless. Why not let Scott have his moment to shine, and let him play?

Fortunately, the resistance was short, and after much speculation the NHL will let Scott captain the Pacific Division team.

So on Jan. 31, there will be three different All-Star games, John Scott will captain the Pacific team, and, much to the surprise of the NHL, the world will not come to an end because of it.

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2015-16 NHL All-Star Controversy