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The NHL is going to implement a John Scott Rule for All-Star Game Voting, and that’s ok

The magic happened despite the league, not because of it

2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game - Final Photo by Sanford Myers/Getty Images

Last year’s All-Star Game was one of the most-memorable in my life, in any sport. It also happened on a lark that got out of everybody’s hands so fast that it snowballed into a setup that was either going to be magical or disastrous. The career goon John Scott won the joke vote, then won a chance to even play in the game, then won the people over, then won the MVP of the whole contest.

The entire time this was happening, the sponsors-first, casuals-second, die-hards last National Hockey league was scrambling as best they could to control, mitigate, and eliminate the situation their own fans had put them in. Meanwhile, the voters watching on both sides were busy flashing their fan-police badges at one another over various charges related to the oscillating degrees of sanctity held by the All-Star Game, the voting process, the anti-goon movement, and even the man who had been thrust into the center of the entire situation.

At the end of it all, we got a story worthy of a movie deal, literally.

This year, according to Ken Campbell, it’s not going to go down like that. In an article penned at The Hockey News, Campbell points out that the NHL has vaguely promised to restrict the voting to “bona fide NHL players.”

...But has learned that might not be the case. And it all centers around the definition of a “bona fide NHL player.” As was told to by a league source, “There will be parameters put around what it means to be an NHL player. The intent is to allow populist voting if that’s what the fans want to do, but players elected have to be bona fide NHLers.”

To anybody who has paid a lick of attention to the way the NHL operates for the last decade-plus, you already know that this means the NHL hasn’t quite figured out how to keep this from happening again, but is keeping options open with a vague definition.

My money is on the league waiting to see which nobody gets a big lead in the polls and then setting the bar for bona fide just above his head. I’m sure the jokester fans will account for this and possibly set a target for a player that it would be ridiculous to say isn’t a bona fide NHL player, but who also shouldn’t be considered an all-star either. Heck, Steve Ott has more than 800 career games played; maybe he’d be a good candidate?

The problem with the Animal House-esque subversion/counter-subversion tactics between the NHL and its own fans is kind of the same problem that the NHL has created for itself with the explosion of outdoor games since the first Winter Classics were so memorable: trying to purposefully recreate magic is extremely difficult to do, especially the more you try to do it.

Imagine how much worse it would be if the NHL were actively trying to help. You know the death of a meme happens when brands start co-opting it to sell shit to people. Can you imagine how quickly the fans would become jaded with the kooky “send a nobody to the ASG” plan if mom-and-pop Bettman and Daly gave it the thumbs up?

At this point, the only possible chance that we get anything so memorable again is if the league embraces their role as the bad guy and does their best to squash it. Honestly, if I weren’t still wearing my tinfoil hat to ward off the mind-rays telling me the NHL reffing standard sucks, I might be inclined to believe that setting a vague rule that dares fans to find a bona fide NHL player that doesn’t belong in the All-Star game was an intentional work.

The bottom line is that the magic of John Scott’s All-Star Game probably isn’t coming back. Most of us would like to experience something that cool and weird again, but it’s likely not in the cards. The harder everybody tries to make it happen, the worse it’s going to be. Perhaps the stuffy league and subversive fans can next work their magic on player safety or something?