John Scott's Heroic Raid on the NHL's Kingdom of Propriety

John Scott saved the NHL All Star game all by his lonesome. But what does this messy situation say about the NHL's other failures?

A person gets from a symbol the meaning he puts into it, and what is one man's comfort and inspiration is another's jest and scorn. Or so said the US Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.

To the NHL, John Scott is a symbol of jest. A 6-foot-8 link to a culture it has tried to forget. It did so quite explicitly, and embarrassingly so, by trying to remove him from the All Star game.

But culture isn't an undercooked fast food burger. You can't just throw it away. The elements of any culture have to be nurtured, and permitted. Where certain elements aren't agreed upon, they must be conceded. And where there is concession, also guilt.

And the NHL has conceded what Scott symbolizes for quite a while. How else to explain how it wasn't until recently that the league took steps to curtail fighting with the helmet rule, and the instigator? Or why the Ontario Hockey League is ahead of the crackdown on fighting with its staged fight penalties?

John Scott articulated his awareness of the situation at the Player's Tribute:

But while I don't deserve to be an All-Star, I also don't think I deserve to be treated like I've been by the league throughout this saga. I'm an NHL player -” and, whatever my set of skills may be, that I'm an NHL player is no accident.

None of this should be read as a solemn, or cynical interpretation of Scott's role. I like my pugilism medium rare. Nor do I think the NHL should outright ban it. Because none of this is the point.

On Sunday, John Scott ignored the NHL's inability to brand its own individuals. He did more for puck heroism than the NHL could manage with a multi-million dollar marketing machine armed with Stan Lee, who the NHL inexplicably managed to reduce to the role of colostomy bag.

With two goals, the many ways in which he symbolized people's feelings of Patrick Kane, and a certified NHL quality slap shot, I couldn't find a single negative thing written about Scott from anyone in the hockey media.

On the contrary.

And that's the unfortunate rub. It never had to be like this. We didn't have to talk about the NHL trying to bully John Scott with a trade that took his family point A to point Z on the North American map just so it didn't have to deal with the blowback of its own making.

Perhaps, and I apologize for letting theory take over what should just be a "the NHL is a warthog faced buffoon, boo these men!" piece. But perhaps this is where actual fighting helped Scott. Because a fight is a raid of the senses. It's a primal expression of dominance that sets up a zero sum outcome. Kind of like the Game of Thrones. And Scott was either gonna win spectacularly, or lose thoroughly. And Scott won. Spectacularly.

It's fitting that Scott didn't wear an NHL jersey during the skills competition. He's not an NHL player, technically speaking. And in the beginning, the NHL wanted it that way. The game itself has forced Scott away from most teams. And the NHL itself didn't want him to be a part of the sport its teams represent.

Sounds like a crappy ending. Except the part where Scott ended up not just the MVP of the game, but the MVP to the only team that matters.