It’s Dan Mount and I’m back with another edition of Three Periods. It may be Super Bowl weekend, but the NHL did some pretty outstanding things over the last couple of weeks. The league managed to turn a potential public relations nightmare into one of the best stories in recent memory.
We’re also going to talk about the freefall of Canadian teams from playoff contention and the All-Star Game itself.
Thanks for bearing with me the last few weeks, but let’s get started.
John Scott belonged in the All-Star Game after all. The journeyman enforcer is having himself quite a week after the initial controversy surrounding his selection as Pacific Division captain. I wasn’t a fan of him being put on the team because I thought the spot deserved to go to one his more offensively-talent teammates in defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Max
However, it was the system that was in place and we had to live with it. The National Hockey League was irritated with the fan vote that they tried to pressure the so-called “goon” out of the exhibition. An article in The Players Tribune showed the lengths the league went to and even tried to use Scott’s kids against him.
The NHL relented and Scott flourished by scoring a pair of goals and captaining the Pacific Division to the title. He was rewarded with MVP award and the league’s First Star of the Week. He rounded out the week by adding twin girls to his family.
Scott had a great time and showed what hockey was all about by having fun. He chirped Patrick Kane and had a pretend fight after body checking him. He celebrated after scoring and became a crowd favorite in Nashville. It was a great time had by all, and proved that the All-Star should be fun.
The viewers also really seemed to enjoy the John Scott element to the All-Star Game as the ratings skyrocketed from the 2015 exhibition in Columbus. Ratings were up 34-percent from last year’s game, and the 3-on-3 format was well-received. (That was a 10-year high for the mid-winter classic, and was in contrast to the Pro Bowl’s 10-year ratings low.)
The offense usually flows in an All-Star Game, but there was some solid defensive play. Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was still backchecking like it was a playoff game against the rival Montreal Canadiens. John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks made a wonderful split saves and Jonathan Quick of the rival Los Angeles Kings was stellar in net.
There was plenty of fun in the Skills Contest as Montreal’s PK Subban dressed like the legendary Jaromir Jagr and Brent Burns of San Jose channeled his inner-Wookie. All in all, the weekend was a hit.
However, I didn’t like the fact that Alex Ovechkin and Jonathan Toews were suspended after missing the game. Ovie missed the game due to a lower-body injury and Toews had the flu. I understand making sure star players show up for the game, but these are legitimate reasons for a player to not come to the game. The NHL should rethink this policy.
As of this blog post, there are no Canadian teams in playoff position. I didn’t expect a great season for clubs north of the border. I thought Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver would regress after each had a breakthrough season, and I knew Toronto and Edmonton were in the midst of a painful rebuild.
However, I did not anticipate the pain of the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs got off to a great start, but the combination of bad defense and the injury to all-world goalie Carey Price has them in a whole heap of trouble. (It also hasn’t helped that Price has suffered many setbacks in his road back.)
The is a very real possibility of Canada will not have playoff representation for the only time since the 1969-70 season, which was the only other time that happened. Montreal seems to be the only team in position to fight its way back into the Atlantic Division playoff race. However, they need Price to come back in the worst way.
Tweet of the week: Social media was dominated by the John Scott All-Star Game appearance, and I couldn’t pick just one. This link will provide some of the better reactions.
That’s it for this week. We’ll see you next week with another edition of Three Periods.
Dan Mount is a producer for Spadora on Sports. He’s also a writer for NHL on the Ice and is the Nashville Predators beat reporter for The Hockey Writers. He can be found on Twitter @DanMountSports.