KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
All right, now for a story of a goon-made-good. Stay with me, here. NHL defenseman John Scott is an enforcer. And in hockey, the term for enforcer is goon. Goons aren't paid to score goals. They're paid to fight. So goons are unlikely heroes. But John Scott is a favorite of fans. They voted him into this year's All-Star game much to the dismay of the NHL. And to the delight of hockey fans everywhere, Scott scored two goals in last night's All-Star game and is now the most unlikely All-Star game MVP ever. Joining me on the line to talk about this is Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports. Welcome.
GREG WYSHYNSKI: Great to be here. Thanks.
MCEVERS: All right, so how often do goons like John Scott actually make the All-Star game?
WYSHYNSKI: That would be never.
WYSHYNSKI: They're hardly ever - there have been a few through the years. Chris Nilan, who was an infamous fighter in the 1980s and '90s was the in to an All-Star team at one point. But for the most part, these are players that are on the outside looking in while the skilled players in the National Hockey League do their thing in the All-Star game unless, of course, you're the NHL and you open up the fan voting to allow any player to be elected to the All-Star game, which, in their tomfoolery, they did. And a chaotic group of miscreants and NHL fans on Reddit and social media pushed John Scott to the top of the popular vote. He had more votes than Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Jaromir Jagror and other stars, and he was an All-Star captain.
MCEVERS: I mean, I said that, you know, he was voted in to the dismay of the NHL. Explain how the league dealt with this and reacted to it.
WYSHYNSKI: Poorly would be the word I'd use.
MCEVERS: (Laughter) OK.
WYSHYNSKI: They - for the first time in my career as a sport's writer, an All-Star vote was held where they didn't reveal any of the vote totals during the voting, which is something, like, they like to crow about. They didn't reveal the vote totals during the voting. They didn't reveal the vote totals after the voting. Once this unlikely candidate led all voting, they didn't do any kind of feature story on him or anything else.
But it goes beyond that. John Scott revealed in an article in The Players' Tribune a few days before the All-Star game that the NHL actually was discouraging him taking this spot in their All-Star game. Somebody from the NHL actually said to John Scott, what will your daughters think if you take this spot in the All-Star game over somebody who is more deserving? And that was his breaking point. That was the moment in which John Scott decided, I'm going to go to this game because no one is going to try to...
MCEVERS: Tell me what to do.
WYSHYNSKI: ...Tell me that my family's ashamed of me.
MCEVERS: Wow. And so here we have this newly minted All-Star MVP, and now he's actually going to be playing in the minor leagues for the St John's Ice Caps in Newfoundland. What happened there?
WYSHYNSKI: He was playing with the Arizona Coyotes. In Scott's theory, he was traded out of spite after refusing to step down from his All-Star game spot. The Montreal Canadiens team to which he was traded to put him in the American Hockey League. And the theory was, being that he wasn't in the NHL anymore, he wouldn't be in the NHL All-Star game. But the league said, you're more than welcome to come. So not only was there an enforcer in the NHL All-Star game. There was a guy who was not even in the NHL anymore in the NHL All-Star game.
MCEVERS: And I got to ask, like, why would the NHL not want somebody to play in the All-Star game who the fans had voted?
WYSHYNSKI: Because it wasn't planned, and they don't roll with the punches very well, this league. But the beautiful irony of this whole thing is, none of this happens - none of this cult heroism and folk heroism and fans chanting MVP when John Scott touched the puck in the All-Star game happens if there isn't a villain. And the NHL coming so hard down on this guy and trying to subvert the popular vote and trying to find ways around him being in the game created this environment where what was the class-clown-becoming-student-council-president all of a sudden becomes, like, the Joan of Arc of the All-Star game with all of the fans rallying around him and chanting his name all game.
MCEVERS: That's Greg Wyshynski. He writes the Puck Daddy blog for Yahoo Sports. Thanks so much.
WYSHYNSKI: Anytime. Thanks for having me.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.