There's a surprising amount of hand-wringing going on over John Scott's sudden rise in the NHL All-Star Game's fan-voting. He's now leading the vote*, in front of Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Tyler Seguin, PK Subban, and teammate Max Domi, who sits in 9th place.
*Author's Note, when I started writing this post this morning, Scott was in fourth place. When I went back and checked before scheduling, he was in third. Then second. Now he's leading. NHL fans really want this to happen.
One of these things is clearly not like the others. Scott has played six games this year, with one assist and 18 penalty minutes. But honestly, who cares?
The integrity of the game has been a punchline for years now; players (understandably) suffer mysterious ailments just before the All-Star Break that keeps them out of the game, those that do attend tend not to exert themselves too much during the actual game, turning what the league envisions to be a showcase of high powered offense into a slog of disinterested, barely skating forechecking against passive defense.
When the highlight of the weekend is players getting drunk and enjoying themselves off the ice, that speaks volumes about the "integrity of the game".
So why not let fans have some fun with it? Why not let them vote for players like Scott who rarely command attention for the work they do on the ice? Why not let them have a moment in the spotlight?
We talk a lot here about the declining value of the enforcer type to NHL teams, but that in no way diminishes how hard that job is. Players like Scott and Chris Neil and Jordin Tootoo take an extraordinary amount of punishment for basically league minimum. They have little to no job security on their own teams, or even in the league as a whole.
So if fans want to recognize those players by making them captains of three-on-three exhibition teams, who cares? It would be hard for the All-Star Game to get any worse, and if the Rory Fitzpatricks and Zemgus Girgensons of the world get a chance to show they can be more than just NHL journeymen or pugilists, then all the better.
There's no reason for anyone to get worked up over who plays in a meaningless exhibition tournament. Just roll with it and embrace the insanity.
And don't forget to vote for John Scott.