I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last month since I began writing this blog. For starters, I can have a plan for what I’m going to write each week but when it comes down to actually writing, often times something else ends up on the page.
This past week is a great example. It was the NHL All-Star break and I was planning on chatting with the Isles at skate on Tuesday to hear about their breaks. That was the plan. I did talk to several of the guys and can report back that Kyle Okposo had a wonderful time in Florida with his wife and daughter. Brock Nelson didn’t mind that it was cold in Minnesota, he wanted to unplug and spend time with his family and fiancé. Anders Lee and a few of the other players were soaking up the sun in the Caribbean.
There are some good stories there. But I still can’t stop thinking about a player that’s not on the Islanders roster. John Scott. I know, I know, you have been flooded with John Scott coverage as an NHL fan over the last week. But really, I can’t stop thinking about him and the way he handled the entire All-Star situation.
When I first heard that the fans were pushing hard to vote him in as an All-Star, Stan Fischler and I discussed it on the Isles pre game show. I thought it was crazy. My gut instinct was, why in the world would an enforcer and NHL nomad be worthy of playing with the most skilled players in the word at the All-Star game?
I wasn’t alone. Many of my friends and co-workers agreed the whole things was kind of silly, a joke. I was wrong. I was wrong about the entire thing.
It took reading John Scott’s article in the Players’ Tribune, “A Guy Like Me” and watching the All-Star weekend unfolded to realize that. It brought me to tears reading about his journey. From a young kid playing in Canada, to his college days balancing hockey and engineering, to the enforcer who did anything he could to help his team. In reading his own words, I was reminded that Scott was human. Sometimes it’s easier for fans and even the media to forget that players are human just like us. But they have worked hard, they have had disappointments and they have families to worry about too. For John Scott, his kids and wife are everything to him and I loved how proud he was to share in all the excitement of the weekend with his daughters.
I also loved how his hockey family, immediate and extended rallied around him. You hear that phrase a lot with this sport. Hockey is a family. It was never clearer to me than this weekend. Watching Scott’s Pacific Division teammates hoist him up on their shoulders to carry him off the ice was magical. They understood his battle to play the game he loved. They understood that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. They understood the importance of sticking together and made John Scott their NHL All-Star Game MVP.
This year’s NHL All-Star Game was slated as being unique for its 3-on-3 tournament. But that’s not what I will remember. I’ll remember John Scott, and how class and compassion is alive and well in the NHL.