By Drew Cameron,
Sports Business Writer
All-star games and league showcases have been on the decline over the past few years. Leagues have explored options in order to improve attendance and viewership, and one such method that has been settled on by many leagues is the process of fan voting.
This method makes the all-star game more interactive and allows fans the opportunity to vote for their favorite players, or players from their favorite team.
However, with this transparent process comes some tricky situations. There is no real standard in fan voting and the field is wide open for who fans can vote for, at least in the National Hockey League.
The Major League Baseball system at least narrows the field down and ensures that players have played a minimum number of games at a position the previous season to be eligible for the vote.
This can however prevent an up and coming player who is having a stellar season from being eligible for the midsummer classic. The opposite end of the spectrum; the NHL, brings a different problem, any player is eligible to be voted in.
This was exactly the problem the NHL encountered this season with the fan voting for the all-star game. Phoenix’s John Scott somehow became a fan favorite early in the voting and as word spread through social media, more and more votes came streaming in marked with his name. Now in an ideal world most people expect that the all-star game will be a collection of the best players in the game. Recently, players have begun to avoid the game in order to have a break, and prevent unnecessary injury, thus the game has become more of a formality and a ceremonial event.
As a hockey fan I am almost embarrassed to say that before he began receiving all-star votes I didn’t know who John Scott was. However, what I did know, rather thought I knew, was the type of player Scott was. His role in the NHL is often taken for granted, the role of fourth line grinding, glove dropping enforcer. The NHL is unique in the fact that although referees patrol the ice, enforcers do as well.
These players play minimal time but when they do step on the ice, they have a purpose and that purpose is to be physical and to send a message to both his teammates and opponents. With this in mind John Scott isn’t exactly the type of player you would expect to see leading the all-star voting.
The interesting part about these players is the fact that they do in fact possess a high level of talent, they did in fact make it to the league exhibiting the best players in the world. These players were all the best players on their respective teams growing up, until a certain point in their lives they were the top scorers and best skaters. But at a certain point their talents were taken in a new direction and they were groomed to fill a role.
Like all things in life it is difficult and inaccurate to group people into categories, the same applies to hockey players. Fans and those who aren’t as close to the game don’t realize the personal conflicts that hockey players and enforcers experience on a regular basis.
John Scott entered into this game looking to change the way fans look at players of his nature, and he did just that. He reminded people that although he is an enforcer he still has an incredible amount of talent that has helped him make it to where he is in the game today.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 9th print edition.
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