NEW YORK – John Scott has been named the NHL first star of the week, the latest piece of recognition for his improbable transformation from journeyman tough guy to all-star sniper.
Scott, known primarily for being one of the last enforcers in a league where fighting is in decline, scored two goals on Sunday to lead the Pacific Division to victory at the 3-on-3 all-star tournament in Nashville.
The 33-year-old Edmonton native was voted into the all-star game by fans seemingly as a joke, but his inclusion in the showcase event gained momentum when he was traded from Arizona to Montreal and immediately assigned to the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League, putting his all-star eligibility in doubt.
Scott wrote last week that someone from the league tried to talk him out of playing in the game and asked if his two kids would be proud of him if he did. That strengthened his resolved to show up.
The league ultimately allowed him to keep his spot as Pacific Division captain, and he responded with two goals in the team’s 9-6 win over the Central Division in the tournament semifinals. Scott then recorded two shots on goal in a 1-0 triumph over the Atlantic Division in the final, helping the Pacific Division capture the US$1-million winner-take-all prize.
Scott wasn’t one of the three choices fans were given for the all-star MVP award, but the league said he got an “overwhelming,” number of write-in votes via Twitter.
WATCH: All-Star teammates lift John Scott onto their shoulders after MVP performance
The six-foot-eight, 260-pound forward was hoisted onto the shoulders of his teammates while the fans chanted “M-V-P! M-V-P!”
“You can’t put it into words, you can’t write this stuff,” Scott said. “It was a whirlwind and it went by so fast, but I loved it. It was probably the coolest thing I have done in hockey.”
Columbus right-wing Cam Atkinson was named second star with four goals and an assist in the Blue Jackets’ sweep of their home-and-home series against Montreal.
Buffalo centre Jack Eichel won third-star honours with two goals and two assists over two games.
The NHL also named its three stars for January, with Washington centre Evgeny Kuznetsov, Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford and Pittsburgh defenceman Kris Letang earning the honours.
WATCH: John Scott: From unknown NHLer to NHL All-Star
Kuznetsov had four goals and 12 assists over 10 games for the league-leading Capitals. Crawford went 9-2-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average, .952 save percentage and two shutouts in 11 contests and Letang led all defencemen with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) over 10 games.
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Louis Domingue was named rookie of the month, going 6-3-2 with a shutout.