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Veteran NHL forward John Scott, who rose to prominence by reaching the 2016 All-Star Game thanks to a groundswell of fan support, officially announced his retirement from hockey Wednesday.
Scott wrote about the decision in a piece for The Players’ Tribune, which recounted a whirlwind career that featured far more fights than goals (warning: link contains NSFW language):
It has been a hell of a ride. But I’m done. I am officially retired, as of today.
I scored five goals. I had four kids. And I had one hell of a good time over the years. By my count, I only had 43 fights in the NHL. I only really lost one clean, in my humble opinion. Congratulations, Justin Johnson. You caught me with the left hook. What can I say? Good job.
Scott spent a vast majority of his career in relative anonymity. He was a nice, down-to-earth guy who filled the role of fourth-line goon for a handful of minutes per night when playing at the NHL level, which he did for seven different teams across 286 games starting in 2008.
His final numbers don’t showcase much offensive success. Along with the five goals he mentioned, he added only six assists and 108 shots on goal, or about one every three games. He never averaged more than 10 minutes of ice time per game.
Yet, despite a career stat line most notable for his 544 penalty minutes, in at least one way he changed the NHL forever: the way All-Star voting is handled.
The idea of trying to get a role player into the All-Star Game wasn’t new when Scott’s situation took center stage. Some fans tried a similar effort with Vancouver Canucks defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick for the 2007 contest, but he ultimately came up short.
Scott’s bid picked up steam around the new year, though. His potential selection generated so many headlines that the Arizona Coyotes traded him to the Montreal Canadiens, who quickly attempted to bury him on the franchise’s minor league AHL roster.
In his retirement announcement, the 34-year-old winger described how the trade went down under “pretty suspicious circumstances.” Nevertheless, he still made the All-Star roster and stated NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met with him personally in Nashville to “smooth things over.”
As it turned out, Scott didn’t just play in the midseason showcase, he shined. The longtime grinder scored two goals to help lead the Pacific All-Stars to the title in the league’s new three-on-three tournament format. He earned MVP honors for his effort. He wrote about that experience in The Players’ Tribune:
That weekend in Nashville was simply amazing. People talk about goose bumps all the time as a figure of speech, but I legit had goose bumps a dozen times over the course of that game. It felt like the entire building was on my side. The best part of the experience was that my daughters were there to feel all the good energy. For one day, their dad was a superstar.
Although the ordeal generated more mainstream buzz than the league could have ever imagined, it won’t happen again. The NHL recently announced the addition of what’s being dubbed the “John Scott Rule” to prevent a similar issue in the future.
Scott, who didn’t join a team for the current campaign, wrote he now spends his time watching the Disney Channel with his kids, taking them to dance practice or going to pizza day on Fridays at his oldest daughter’s school.
“You know, I still get chirped by people on the internet. They’ll say, ‘You’re just a joke. You only scored five goals in your NHL career,'” Scott wrote. “What can I say?”
“You’re damn right I did,” he concluded.