When the NHL announced the new three-on-three format for their All-Star Game, I have to admit I was fairly skeptical. In fact, I was downright against it. It seemed to me the league had decided to make their annual showcase of talent the most gimmicky one in all of sports.
That is, until I watched the All-Star Game a couple weekends ago.
Now I have to admit that I was wrong.
The NHL All-Star weekend, which took place in Nashville this year, was a spectacle to behold. From the Skills Competition to the All-Star Game itself, last weekend’s festivities turned out be the absolute best in recent memory.
I’ll admit that the only reason I was watching this year’s game was the inclusion of enforcer John Scott, who was voted in as the captain of the Pacific Division team by fans late last year. At that point the 6’8”, 260lb journeyman was a fourth-line player for the Arizona Coyotes.
To say there was drama surrounding Scott’s selection would be a huge understatement. Describing the crazy chain of events that took place between Scott’s selection and the All Star Game itself would take more space than I have, so I won’t.
Instead, let’s just say there was about a week when it looked like Scott was going to be blocked out of the game by the league and when he finally took to the ice for Saturday’s Skills Competition he wasn’t wearing a Arizona Coyotes’ jersey.
That all leads up to one of the many great moments that took place that weekend, the moment when Scott went to take his first shot during the hardest shot competition.
When he skated out to the blue line to make his first attempt, he received a resounding standing ovation from the fans and all of the players on the ice.
Remember, this is a guy who figured he would never get to play in an All Star Game. A guy who has scored just six goals in his entire NHL career, not necessarily because he wasn’t capable of scoring but because he knew he had a role to fill.
It was a dream come true for him and the fans and players in the building all wanted to help make this a weekend he would never forget.
Then there was the tournament, which took place on the Sunday afternoon.
It was great. Some excellent hockey, exciting three-on-three action and the players were playing to win.
A pair of close conference matchups built up to a 1-0 classic between the Pacific and Atlantic divisions in the final.
To make matters even better, Scott scored two goals including the Pacific Division’s first goal of the tournament.
That all leads up to my favourite moment of the weekend – the MVP presentations.
After all of the adversity and trouble he went through just to get here, there was only one person who deserved the MVP award.
But I still couldn’t help but cheer as loud as I could when Scott was presented with the award by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.
Overall, it was a weekend that will live in hockey fans’ memories as one of the greatest All-Star Games of all time and I, for one, hope that next year’s game will be just as good.