© THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rick Scuteri
Arizona Coyotes' winger John Scott, left, and Winnipeg Jets center Andrew Copp battle for the puck in the first period during an NHL hockey game, Thiursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. NHL tough guy Scott will play in the league's all-star game, even though he's currently in the minors.The NHL says he will captain the Pacific Division team in the Jan. 31 game.
Scott’s selection impetus for all-star voting process overhaul
NHL fans selection of little-used enforcer John Scott to attend the upcoming All-Star Game in Nashville (as a team captain, no less) is the nadir for this increasingly irrelevant annual showcase of NHL talent.
By stuffing the ballot box for Scott, fans exploited a longstanding weakness in the online voting process. They consider it a great joke to select a player whose sole talent is his pugilistic skills.
However, this prank came at the expense of more-deserving skill players. Among those passed over include Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Winnipeg Jets winger Blake Wheeler and Dallas Stars defenceman John Klingberg.
Soon after Scott was voted to the All-Star Game, he was traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Montreal Canadiens and demoted to the latter’s AHL farm team. Speculation quickly arose, suggesting the deal was a league-driven effort to keep him out of the All-Star contest.
The Coyotes, Canadiens and the NHL denied it.
League commissioner Gary Bettman stated Scott would still participate. Problem is, the hulking bruiser was the Coyotes' sole All-Star representative. His trade now means they have no one going to the game.
This farce finally forced the NHL to make a long-overdue change to the fan voting system to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. That it took them this long to address this longstanding problem speaks volumes for their stunning lack of oversight.
The Los Angeles Kings recently signed centre Anze Kopitar to an eight-year, $80-million contract extension. It’s comparable to the eight-year, $84-million deals of Chicago Blackhawks superstars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Some critics question Kopitar being in the same class as those two.
Anyone who doubts Kopitar’s worth obviously hasn’t followed the Kings. Since his NHL debut in 2006-07, the 28-year-old Slovenian quickly rose to become one of the NHL’s elite centres and the Kings top forward.
In every season since 2007-08, Kopitar’s been the Kings leading scorer. He was their top playoff scorer in both of their Stanley Cup championship runs, and is regularly a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward.
Any centre, who is consistently his club's leading scorer and top defensive forward, deserves to be well-compensated. If Kopitar played in an Eastern NHL hotbed like Toronto, Montreal or New York, no one would question his new contract.
A quick look at the NHL standings this week reveals not a single Canadian-based team holding a playoff berth. That raises the possibility of no Canadian club in the post-season for the first time since 1970.
One reason is three of these teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks) are currently rebuilding. As for the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames (all playoff teams in 2015), they’ve failed to build upon last season’s promise.
Enough time remains in the regular-season schedule for one or two Canadian teams to squeak into the playoffs. However, it’s unlikely Canada's 23-year Stanley Cup drought will come to an end this year.
Lyle Richardson is a freelance writer with The Hockey News and runs the website Spector’s Hockey. His column will appear in The Guardian throughout the NHL hockey season.