I’m obviously excited about the Nashville Predators making the Stanley Cup Final. A lot of other people are too, even people that aren’t Nashville fans. You better believe the NHL is excited. I’m not one of those guys that will tell you that the league is rooting for or against certain teams (unless the Preds are getting jobbed on a call by a hapless official), but I feel pretty safe in saying that the league office is pretty happy to see the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final for a couple of reasons.
-It helps justify the Sunbelt Strategy of the 1990s. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was the main force behind pushing the NHL into markets in the Southern United States, a growing part of America that hadn’t had much exposure to the game. In cases like the Tampa Bay Lightning, it’s worked. In cases like the Atlanta Thrashers, the Florida Panthers & even the Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes, things have been a little tougher. Nashville’s had its ups and downs too, people thought the team was moving to Hamilton, Ontario ten years ago. Fortunately that didn’t happen, as Nashville has grown as a city since the Predators came to town and the team has grown side by side with the city and has become the focal point of mass hysteria. The Preds have become an important part of Nashville’s culture, which few people would have expected when the franchise was founded.
-It puts P.K. Subban into the Stanley Cup Final. P.K. is considered by most people to be the most charismatic hockey player by a pretty wide margin. Unlike many of his peers, he has a personality and isn’t afraid to show it. His fans have a passion for him matching the passion that any fan base has for a player. He gets to do interviews building up the Cup Final, which will only help fan interest. It’s great for hockey if P.K. is on a competitive team doing big things.
You would think John Scott, of all people, would appreciate the fun that P.K. brings.
OK, you might be asking just who the heck John Scott is. We go back to just before the 2016 All-Star Game, when hockey fans on the Internet thought it would be a hoot to vote Scott, a little-used wing with the Arizona Coyotes who had gotten one assist in eleven games played during the 2015-16 season and was known more for being an “enforcer” than anything else, into a 3 on 3 exhibition. Scott got voted in, but the NHL tried to skirt around the fan voting when the Coyotes traded Scott to Montreal after the rosters were announced. They tried to take him out of the game, the fans revolted, and Scott ended up going to the game as the Pacific Division captain. He was then voted MVP of the All-Star Game because the fans wanted to send a message to the NHL, who of course had left Scott out of the choices for MVP. I’m still not sure what the message was. Maybe it was that people shouldn’t be trusted with voting? Lord knows we learned that the hard way later in 2016.
At the time I thought almost everybody involved was stupid. I thought the fans were stupid for voting Scott in for no real reason other than it’d be funny. I thought the NHL & the Coyotes were stupid for actively trying to deprive the fans of what they stupidly voted for. I thought the All-Star Game in general was stupid. I didn’t think Scott was stupid though. He played the whole thing really well, writing a well-received article for Derek Jeter’s website and coming across like a good guy just doing his job that got rewarded for it after years of toiling in obscurity.
Scott played 27 games in the AHL before appearing in one game with the Montreal Canadiens where he got in a fight. He retired after the game & returned home to Michigan to spend time with his four kids. Good story, right? It’s even in the process of becoming a movie written by Mitch Albom, which should be schmaltzy as all hell and get plenty of acclaim from critics.
That should be where the story ends, but instead it intersected with the story of P.K. Subban this week. ESPN’s Jeremy Schapp followed Subban around for months and produced a profile that appeared on E:60 this week. Any time hockey appears on ESPN is a major event, especially if it’s a profile featuring one of the most interesting people in the league. It’s a rare opportunity for the NHL to reach a more mainstream sports audience and get them to care about the people involved in the game. Subban is just the type of figure that is great for situations like these…people either love him or hate him and there’s no middle ground. The people like me that love him can’t see why people would hate him, and the people on the other side are equally as clueless as to why people would love him. The bottom line is that whether hockey fans love or hate P.K., they will tune in to watch him.
For some reason somebody at ESPN decided that John Scott would be a good person to ask about P.K. Subban. Considering ESPN’s lack of knowledgeable hockey people, I can only assume that they looked at the All-Star Game rosters and decided to ask the captains. Scott did spend one game on the same roster as Subban, so I guess that makes him as qualified as anybody to offer the following take:
“I don’t like him…I think on the ice, he’s a piece of garbage. Perceived as like a hot shot, [that] this guy thinks he’s better than everybody.”
In one sense, this doesn’t surprise me. Scott is a completely different player than Subban. For one thing, Subban has skills. He’s a capable defender and as gifted on offense as any defenseman in the NHL. Scott’s job in the NHL was to fight people. He was a big ol’ boy that would keep opposing teams in line and wasn’t too concerned with things like where the puck happened to be at the time. He was very good at that job. Things like putting the puck in the net or helping his teammates score enough goals to win a game weren’t his deal. Also, since Scott is a good ol’ boy, his sensibilities and P.K.’s are likely night & day. Celebrating a goal or bobbing one’s head to pregame music are things that John Scott wouldn’t have had any time for.
The part that I don’t get is pretty simple: John Scott owes any fame that he attained during his career to the same people that support P.K. Subban. Fans that want the game to be fun & exciting and hate when the league is way too uptight are the fans that put John Scott in the All-Star Game and got him his fifteen minutes of fame. Mitch Albom isn’t working on a movie about John Scott if John Scott didn’t become a cause celebre on the Internet early in 2016.
Oh by the way…John Scott’s All-Star Game was in Nashville, Tennessee. Predators fans got behind his cause just like everybody else did for some damn reason.
Do you know what happens, John Scott?
Do you know what happens when you bite the hand that feeds you?
Do you know what happens when you use valuable television time to air your jealousy towards a player ten times more talented on his worst day than you ever were on your best day?
Do you know what happens when you advance hockey’s reputation as a game full of people with their sticks firmly up their ass?
Do you know what happens when you use the final minute of your fame to whine, bitch and moan about something you can’t do anything about?