Cam Cole: Scott beamed up as all-star captain

 

NHL ballot wars: No joke, minor leaguer will suit up for league’s showcase game; Patriots’ hot rise leaves DeflateGate brass looking like petty doughheads

 
 
 
 
Thanks to fans stuffing ballots, John Scott will be captain of the Pacific Division team for the NHL All-Star Game, which will be played Jan. 31 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
 

Thanks to fans stuffing ballots, John Scott will be captain of the Pacific Division team for the NHL All-Star Game, which will be played Jan. 31 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Photograph by: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Images

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Items that may grow up to be columns, Vol. XVIII, Chapter 3:

There’s nothing so instructive as a popular revolt against what you thought was a good idea. So it is that the National Hockey League, having been ripped a new orifice over the John Scott all-star fiasco, has finally decided to bite the bullet and admit defeat.

Scott, the victim/beneficiary of a cruel joke owing to a loophole in the NHL’s mightily flawed voting system for the All-Star Game — fans thought it would be hilarious to elect a palooka, and stuffed ballot boxes with votes for the then-Arizona Coyotes forward — will, after all, be captain of the Pacific team, even though he is no longer in the Pacific Division … or even in the NHL.

HANKY-PANKY: The league made the announcement Tuesday, possibly in response to suggestions that it had helped orchestrate the trade that sent Scott, a frequent healthy scratch with the Coyotes, to Montreal, where the Habs would promptly bury him in the minors.

All parties no doubt assumed that would end the controversy, but instead, it blossomed. Scott, who did nothing wrong, ended up being pilloried by half the critics and championed by the others, and the NHL and the two teams were starting to look like fellow conspirators in a plot to relieve the league’s embarrassment over what seemed at first a harmless prank.

Only it wasn’t harmless to Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Shane Doan or even Max Domi, any of whom might have been the Coyotes’ all-star rep if the fans hadn’t made a joke of the process.

BUBBLE WRAP: Many an irate Islanders fan wrote to voice displeasure over a tweet of mine after the league decided there would be no supplemental discipline for Mikhail Grabovski for his hit on Henrik Sedin, which (we now know) will keep the Canucks’ captain out until after the all-star game.

The tweet read: “Excellent trade-off for the Islanders. Good road map for future assaults on stars.”

Grabovski, the fans pointed out, was the furthest thing from a dirty player. Which, I would argue, has nothing to do with it. Lots of good, honest players make bad hits, or hits that turn out bad. My point was that as long as the league doesn’t err on the side of stiffer penalties when the targets of those hits are stars, they’re soon going to run out of stars, because teams will do the math and happily take a five-minute major to be rid of an opponent’s best player.

It’s a ruthless business. Don’t think it doesn’t happen.

FOX EATS SHARK: Granted, it was a pretty spotty debut for FOX as broadcaster of the U.S. Open last June at Chambers Bay, but even so, the network’s decision to jettison Greg Norman as the lead colour commentator after just one go-round is surprising.

Not that he needs the money.

More interesting will be who might replace him alongside Joe Buck. Paul Azinger, smart and knowledgeable and opinionated, would be a natural, but without the ability to also work, say, with Golf Channel (NBC owned) or another outlet, he’d be limited to the very small roster of USGA events to which golf newcomer FOX has broadcast rights.

That would be a waste of an excellent pot-stirrer.

REAP WHAT YOU SOW: Like the NHL’s much-anticipated expansion to Las Vegas, the fact that bookmaker William Hill is among the sponsors of tennis’s Australian Open is seen as an invitation for gamblers to attempt to influence outcomes of games. In the case of tennis, the BBC/BuzzFeed story that 16 players — eight of whom were or are still in the field of the season’s first Grand Slam event — have been repeatedly flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) on suspicion of having thrown matches has stolen all the headlines in the Aussie Open’s first couple of days.

But without names, it’s rather like the post-Ben Johnson environment, in which every sprinter was guilty by association.

If the names come out, though, before the tournament ends, and anyone prominent is among them … whee! Feeding frenzy.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Best wishes to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the one-year celebration of the outbreak of DeflateGate, the tempest in a teapot that ate up millions in legal fees and ultimately accomplished nothing more than to put a firecracker up the butts of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady, who have had another sensational season … with the most heavily scrutinized footballs in history.

End results: Goodell is viewed as an incompetent doughhead who didn’t understand science, the dogged pursuit of a quarterback who was never shown to have cheated looks petty and vindictive, and scientists have roundly discredited the Indianapolis Colts/NFL allegations that there was dirty work at the crossroads with those ever-so-slightly deflated footballs.

The league fumbled. The Patriots recovered.

ccole@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/rcamcole

 
 
 
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Thanks to fans stuffing ballots, John Scott will be captain of the Pacific Division team for the NHL All-Star Game, which will be played Jan. 31 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
 

Thanks to fans stuffing ballots, John Scott will be captain of the Pacific Division team for the NHL All-Star Game, which will be played Jan. 31 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Photograph by: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Images

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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