Sports Editor

John Scott, an enforcer with only five career goals in nine years in the NHL, captained the Pacific Division to win the three vs. three NHL All-Star tournament on Sunday. He scored two goals and took home his share of a million dollars, a brand-new Honda Pilot, and against all odds, was named the 2016 NHL All-Star Game MVP.

The whole thing is said to have started as a joke. Prior to his All-Star status, John Scott was a hard-working yet ultimately forgettable player in the NHL. His primary role was that of enforcer. In his career he has only tallied up 11 points, but has spent 542 minutes in the penalty box. Standing tall at 6’8”, he is renowned for his ability to grind the opposing players down using physical force.

If needed, this includes dropping gloves and fighting. He’s a tough guy, a fighter, a goon. Regardless, the public voted for him to represent the Pacific Division at the 2016 All Star game.

The way the game turned out, with John Scott sitting on the shoulders of greats like Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns, I have a hard time believing that this whole thing was a joke. An entire arena chanting “MVP” for a guy who barely made it into the NHL, but still managed to build a career as a professional hockey player, is no accident.

We’ve all seen Patrick Kane deke and dangle his way to three Stanley Cup championships. We’ve seen raw, top-of-the-line talent. It is much less frequently that we celebrate the less talented guys, who work tirelessly to move up the ranks, make a difference on their team. Scott wasn’t even on the ballot to decide MVP. The fans wrote his name in.

I take what Scott said in the press conference after the game to heart.

“Work with what you have … if you’re a grinder, if you’re a fighter, a checker, just go with it and things will work out.”

I started playing hockey this year at Denison. Prior to lacing my skates and taping my stick, my athletic experience consisted mostly of my recently ended 10-year swimming career. My only connection to hockey was growing up in Minnesota, where I played up through squirts and the occasional pond-hockey games in the winter. 

When I stepped on the ice with the DU hockey guys who played through high school and who had logged hundreds of hours of ice time, it was clear that I was by far the least skilled player on the ice. But I’ve worked hard at it, gotten significantly better, and playing hockey has turned out to be one of my favorite experiences at Denison. There’s nothing quite like laying a guy out in the neutral zone, knowing that they just got knocked down by a competitive swimmer. I’m not great. I never will be great. But I’ll still do my absolute best to be a better grinder. It’s my job.

We don’t love John Scott because he’s a hall-of-fame-level hockey player. He isn’t. We love him because he fights hard for the teams that he plays for, and he worked unbelievably hard at his hockey skills just to be a fighter in the NHL. And given the opportunity, and a little bit of luck, he managed to put two pucks past the best goaltender in the Central Division. Certainty Scott is a role-player worth celebrating.