John Scott Wins NHL All-Star Game Weekend
Over the past couple of months the NHL has tried to defy their fans, they had John Scott traded for reasons that cannot be considered competitive, and have treated one of their own employees like an embarrassment. John Scott out-classed the NHL at every turn during this long and tumultuous journey. He could have easily blamed the NHL for the public backlash, attacks on his character, and the trade that sent him from Arizona to Newfoundland – all things that he did not ask for, but he didn’t do that. Scott killed the NHL with kindness and buried them with a smile, as some might say. He played, scored twice, made his teammates smile, and guess what? The world is still spinning this morning.
The NHL All-Star Game had dropped to an all-time low over the past several seasons. In Canada for 2012, the All-Star Game drew an audience of 2.454 million viewers. Last year, 2015, the Canadian viewership of the game was down to only 1.479 million. That’s almost a 40% drop in only three years. American viewership for that same time span dropped 14%. A small number when considering how many Canadians have tuned out, but a massive drop nonetheless. The NHL has been working harder and harder to make this game more appealing for fans, but if your athletes aren’t interested in participating, you are already paddling against the current. That current grows much stronger if you do something like completely disregard the power you have given your fans.
Insert John Scott, notorious bruiser. Scott has made a career in the NHL as a fighter or grinder, something many have done before him. Scott makes this All-Star Game game because of a crazy spike in fan involvement; something that the NHL has worked so hard to promote over these past few years. You might figure that for a business like the NHL, a sudden upswing in fan interest would be absolute gold for this event. You would be wrong. The NHL did not want this attention, so they set forth a series of events that lead to John Scott being traded from Arizona to Montreal, and subsequently sent to Newfoundland to play with Montreal’s AHL affiliate, the St. John’s Ice Caps.
Not to be lost in all of this is the fact that the NHL did something very right this year. The change to a 3-on-3 format was a great “change of pace”, no pun intended, from previous years. Last year, 29 goals were scored in the All-Star Game – a ridiculous number. That’s barely even a baseball score; that could be considered a football score. If you are trying to appeal to hockey fans, 17-12 is not the game that you should be putting out there. Previous All-Star Games have had the feeling of a pick-up game that had gone on for an hour too long. Nobody was skating, nobody back-checked, and everyone was cherry-picking. Not even ten minutes into last night’s game I had received text messages from friends that I didn’t even know watched hockey, “Hey man, this new format is pretty cool.” and “When did the All-Star Game become 3-on-3? So awesome.” Of course, I thought the same, but headed to social media to see what the general population thought about the change. The positive response from fans was overwhelming. Speed, quickness, agility, goaltending, fun, and even a little bit of checking. All of the things that fans love about hockey were on display in this new format.
UPDATE: Ratings are in from NBC:
Back to Scott and the role that he played in the success of this All-Star Game. The NHL didn’t want to believe that fans were going to tune in to see Scott, and that was their problem. This shows the glaring disconnect between the NHL and its fans. They put the game in the hands of the fans, and then tried to take it away from them. It was never about John Scott; it could have been nearly anyone. It was the fact that the NHL had a specific outcome in mind and the fans had a different one. The NHL did everything they could to stop this event from being successful, but they failed. The NHL will claim that the new format is what made the game such a success, that is coming, but they had some unwanted “help” in promoting the event as well. From the moment that his jersey sold out, right down to when Scott won the MVP – an award that he was not selected as a nominee for – this weekend came up all John Scott. Finally, we have to say to the NHL, we think John’s family would be very proud of how he handled the whole weekend.