Bettman says enforcer John Scott 'welcome' at All-Star Game
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Hoping to defuse an awkward situation that has hovered over preparations for the NHL All-Star Game, Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday that career enforcer John Scott is welcome at Sunday's showcase event.
Scott said someone at the NHL tried to talk him out of playing in the league's showcase event Sunday, according to a first-person account by Scott that was posted Thursday by The Players Tribune. Fans voted the 6-foot-8 Scott as captain of the Pacific Division, but Arizona traded him to Montreal and he is now at the Canadiens' AHL affiliate in Newfoundland.
Bettman said he had a nice chat with Scott on Thursday night.
''And he's more than welcome to be here,'' Bettman said. ''We're happy he's here. The fans spoke, and we're happy to reflect their will.''
The NHL allowed fans to vote for the captain of each of its four divisions as the league switches to a 3-on-3 format for this All-Star Game. Last season, Latvian fans rallied the Internet to vote native son and Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons into the All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio.
Scott was scheduled to speak later Friday during media day. He wrote that he accepted the league's position that he didn't belong in the All-Star Game - at first.
The enforcer has played for Minnesota, Chicago, the New York Rangers, Buffalo, San Jose and Arizona. He played in a career-high 56 games with the Sabres two years ago, and scored a career-high three goals last season with the Sharks. Scott hasn't averaged double digits in ice time during an NHL season.
''They didn't mince words - This is not a game for you, John - but I understood all the same,'' Scott wrote. ''Honestly, on some level, I agreed. In the beginning, at least, I just wanted the entire thing to go away.''
Then Scott wrote someone with the NHL asked him: ''Do you think this is something your kids would be proud of?''
That incident only strengthened his resolve to play Sunday with some of the world's best hockey players.
''Because, while I may not deserve to be an NHL All-Star, I know I deserve to be the judge of what my kids will - and won't - be proud of me for,'' wrote the 33-year-old Scott, who has two daughters.
AP Hockey Writer Larry Lage contributed to this report.