NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Fans sent enforcer John Scott to the NHL All-Star Game by voting him captain of the Pacific Division.
Then they made him tournament MVP.
Scott scored twice during the league’s new 3-on-3 All-Star tournament, bringing cheers from fans and smiles from teammates, and was named MVP as a write-in candidate after captaining the Pacific to a 1-0 win in the championship Sunday night.
The career journeyman was not listed among the three MVP candidates for a Twitter vote late in the final game, but fans took it upon themselves to select him once again, casting their vote for the 6-foot-8 forward with five goals in 285 career games.
“I’m sure he won over a lot of people, and got even more fans,” Chicago forward Patrick Kane said of Scott.
Fans at Bridgestone Arena booed the MVP options and yelled for Scott. Teammates lifted him on their shoulders while fans chanted “MVP!” and then Scott was announced as the winner and presented with a Honda Pilot Touring SUV.
Scott then posed with his teammates behind their $1 million check.
“I think it’s the best possible outcome right?” Scott said. “We had a good weekend. … We left winning, so it was great.”
The NHL changed the format after last year’s All-Star Game featured 92 shots and a combined 29 goals for the biggest offensive display in the showcase’s 60-year history. This time, these All-Stars combined for 116 shots and 23 goals.
This event looked much more like the hockey the league plays the rest of the season. Their inspiration was the 3-on-3 overtime approach for a tournament pitting the four divisions against each other in 20-minute games. The winners of the first two games advanced to a third-period championship.
“I broke a better sweat than last year for sure,” Philadelphia Flyer and Metropolitan Division forward Claude Giroux said.
Goalies split the work with a 10-minute portion each and actually got the chance to stop shots rather than be targets in the net. Florida’s Roberto Luongo and Jonathan Quick of the Kings each made great saves to keep the first 10 minutes of the championship game scoreless, and Quick stopped Jagr in the final seconds before intermission.
Scott, the personable enforcer who is now also a minor leaguer, stole the show.
A fan campaign made Scott captain of the Pacific Division before the Arizona Coyotes traded him Jan. 15 to Montreal who assigned him to the AHL. He returns to Newfoundland in Canada with lots of prizes after fans took it upon themselves to vote for Scott over the three finalists offered by the league’s hockey operations — Luongo, Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau or Edmonton forward Taylor Hall.
Anaheim forward Corey Perry scored the lone goal in the championship at 13:38.
Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang blocked a shot, and Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban sprawled out on the ice to help protect a 4-3 lead in the final seconds of the Atlantic Division’s 4-3 win over the Metropolitan. Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop stopped a couple shots by Letang and his Penguins teammate Evgeni Malkin inside the final minute to preserve the win.
Goalies also got into the offensive action, taking advantage of more room on the ice. Corey Schneider of New Jersey, Nashville’s own Pekka Rinne, Bishop and Anaheim’s John Gibson all had assists.
Florida forward Jaromir Jagr, captain of the Atlantic Division, skated in his 10th All-Star Game and became the third-oldest to take part in the event behind only Gordie Howe (51 in 1980) and Doug Harvey (44 in 1969). That left a big gap between Jagr, who turns 44 on Feb. 15, and the next most experienced All-Stars. Predators captain Shea Weber, Luongo and Kane all made their fifth career appearances.
Jagr scored his fifth career goal in this event to help the Atlantic beat the Metropolitan 4-3. The Pacific beat the powerful Central 9-6 to advance.