Of course it’s a year later and I still wish we had John Scott around.
I’m wearing the shirt I ordered when he made it to the All-Star game and seriously considering re-reading his prolific essay in The Player’s Tribune called, “A Guy Like Me.” It brought me to tears, it really did.
Instead I just went to the NHL 100 taping in downtown Los Angeles and feel like, “Geez, I did it again, another two hours I won’t get back.”
Live tapings of awards shows are really awkward.
Think about how boring it is to watch an awards show on your T.V. Add not being able to change the channel. There you have it: what it’s like to be at the taping of an awards show.
At awards shows, there’s a bit of action on stage and then there’s a commercial break.
Basically an entire auditorium of people sits around in silence during the commercial breaks — probably so bored out of their minds they don’t know what to say — until an announcer gets on an intercom somewhere.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the voice will say, “we’re live in 20 seconds.”
Then the voice will ask for your applause. Then the entire auditorium will pretend they’re having fun. It’s T.V. magic.
It’s the same thing all the time. This was not my first awards show. I knew it’d be dry going into the NHL 100 taping, but I did it anyway so I could report back to you.
My only solace was John Hamm, the host of this show. He’s handsome so I give him a pass. Totally loved Don Draper even though every woman who marched will hate me for saying that.
Apparently the T.V. gods also knew it would be dry because they set the broadcast for 6:30 p.m. on a Friday night. Who watches T.V. at 6:30 p.m. on a Friday night? Probably my grandmother in her nursing home. In fact, I should have told her to turn on her T.V.
But pretty much no one else watches T.V. at that time. These things don’t happen by accident, folks.
It’s kind of sad to see the NHL get this kind of treatment, because it’s essentially an institution in Canada, where I’m from. But they do it to themselves.
They buried John Scott.
If you do not know, the NHL 100 was part of the league’s All-Star weekend and their centennial celebrations. It recognized the 100 biggest contributors to the game since 1917.
Also could be known as old-white-guys-pat-each-other-on-the-back awards. It’s 2017 so someone’s going to say it: the NHL has a diversity problem. But I’ll let that be someone else’s bone to pick.
What I want to talk about is the drought in humanity we’re seeing at play here.
The NHL meant nothing to Los Angeles until the Kings won the cup a few years ago.
Then for a while — and I mean a hot second — it meant something in Los Angeles. I don’t mean to say it meant everything, only that it meant something.
Also, it only meant something because the Kings were doing well in the playoffs. People suddenly wanted to go to games. Because everyone wanted tickets, that made everyone else want tickets. So— for a minute— hockey meant something in Los Angeles.
But I attended the cup parade the first time the Kings won, and I can tell you judging by the crowd size and enthusiasm, hockey still hasn’t really caught on here.
Why then would the NHL choose L.A. as the city to host not only the 2017 All-Star Game but also their centennial? Surely a place like Winnipeg or, dare I say it, Edmonton would be more deserving of such an honor.
In Winnipeg they would have paved the streets with gold and washed them with the happy tears of finally-noticed Jets fans. In Edmonton it would have felt right, considering the greatest player of all time made a career out of winning in that city. (I am aware he was traded to L.A. to help make this town a hockey one, but, again, I bring you back to the vigor of the cup parade crowds to show you how well that turned out).
In L.A. the All-Star Game and surrounding events barely made it on the radar amid an already busy awards season on a weekend that included the Producer’s Guild Awards and the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards.
But obviously the league chose L.A. because they’re trying to make the game more relevant and marketable. That’s a process that’s been ongoing for years now, only underscored by the recent expansion into Las Vegas.
So I can only assume they thought that L.A., with it’s easy access to the joys of entertainment, would be a great place to host the celebrations. They did get John Legend to play a few songs. And I’m so glad they took advantage of all the city has to offer by hiring that guy from Five For Fighting to sing that song “Superman.”
If you would have watched the broadcast of the NHL 100 this would make you giggle because I’m not sure anyone could be glad about that.
But you didn’t watch it. Why didn’t you watch it?
Here’s why: John Scott.
Last year the NHL held a spot on the All-Star roster to be determined by a fan vote. As a joke, a mean-spirited one but whatever, some fans nominated John Scott. Scott was an enforcer for the Arizona Coyotes and not an all-star, not by a long shot.
Because the NHL is obsessed with their image, some very shady events took place that saw Scott traded away from Arizona and then sent down to the minors, making him ineligible for the All-Star Game and nullifying what was by then a massive groundswell of support.
The whole scenario feels eerily similar to some of the things Trump’s trying to pull, but I don’t want to make any enemies just yet so I won’t get into it.
Fan reaction was so strong the NHL was essentially forced to bring Scott back for the All-Star Game and crown him captain.
Then he scored two goals and won the MVP trophy.
All of this happened, I kid you not.
For a minute, the NHL meant something. It had humanity behind it. There was a story beyond the slick team marketing campaigns and charitable efforts.
There was a human with a family, with dreams and goals, with failures and triumphs. There was a guy like him.
That’s the type of thing fans can get behind. That’s why almost every major sports outlet including the L.A. Times, ESPN, The Globe and Mail, NBC, and Yahoo Sports did a follow-up story on John Scott this year.
I don’t really care about seeing John Hamm host, or hearing “Superman” again, or even seeing John Legend perform. I’m assuming neither do you. But if you follow the NHL I’m sure you still have an opinion about John Scott.
Professional sports in general, and the NHL specifically, are dangerously low on stories that remind us we’re human.
That should change. If sports are about anything, they’re about being alive.