John Scott on Tortorella, enforcers, Kessel, and becoming an all-star

All-star John Scott on fighting, Tortorella

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John Scott said an NHL official crossed the line when he asked whether Scott’s children would be “proud” of his decision to participate in the 2016 all-star game.

“If this has any bearing on what my children think of me when I’m older, then I’m doing a bad job,” Scott recalls of the conversation with the unidentified official in his new book “A Guy Like Me.” “And I think the fact that you’re bringing that up to me really pisses me off.”

Looking back now, about one year later, Scott says the league’s bungled handling of his unlikely all-star bid worked out perfectly in the end. Not only did he score twice and win the all-star MVP award in Nashville, becoming a cult hero in hockey circles, but he got himself a book deal with a film in development for the future.

“They made me out to be like the best guy ever,” the now-retired 34-year-old said.

Scott reflects on his unlikely rise into all-star game MVP in “A Guy Like Me.” The league wanted him to bow out voluntarily after he was elected Pacific Division captain as a joke in a fan voting campaign, and he was mysteriously traded from Arizona to Montreal and sent to the minors. But Scott stuck to his guns, and the league backed down and allowed him to lead the Pacific team in Nashville.

Scott also touches on learning to fight from Derek Boogaard and his role in an infamous pre-season melee between Buffalo and Toronto in his book. He sat down to discuss a few topics during an interview with The Canadian Press this week. Excerpted portions of that conversation follow:

ON THE DEATH OF DEREK BOOGAARD CHANGING HIS PERSPECTIVE ON FIGHTING

Not really. Honestly not. It was sad. It was very devastating when he died. It was a tough time for everyone. It was just sad to see a friend die and same with (Rick) Rypien and (Wade) Belak and even Steve Montador. It’s just sad to see those guys pass. But I still look at my job the same way. You really worked on your life outside of hockey a little bit more. I think that’s where he really struggled a little bit. His support system and his off-ice stuff was not as good as it could’ve been.

ON WHAT HAPPENS IF THE ROLE OF ENFORCER DISAPPEARS

I’ve seen it happen. Teams I go to the year before they just get ran through the boards and players get injured. Like before I came to Buffalo (Ryan) Miller got ran, he got a concussion; (Thomas) Vanek is getting ran all the over ice. And I come to the team and all of a sudden (Miller) has a career year and Vanek’s scoring 40 goals and no one really gets hurt and that’s that. It just calms everything down.

ON KEEPING FIGHTING IN THE GAME

I do believe you should get rid of the one-track fighter and I think they did do that. I think I was one of the last guys to stick around who fought a lot and now the role, you have to play, you have to skate, you have to be able to do a regular shift.

ON GOING TO JAIL FOR A DUI WHILE HE ATTENDED MICHIGAN TECH

I hate to use the cliche (that) it was good for me, but yeah I was spiralling a little bit. Like I was drinking a lot. I could’ve gotten, honestly, DUIs a lot. It was a scary road I was headed down … It was like, okay time to figure things out because I was almost deported, I was almost kicked off the hockey team. My life could’ve been ruined.

ON GOING AFTER SCORING STAR PHIL KESSEL IN 2013 PRE-SEASON MELEE

I second-guessed myself, but then I looked at the bench and I looked at (then Toronto coach) Randy (Carlyle) and he kind of gave me a little grin, like I called your bluff, you know what I mean. I said ‘All right!’ My (defenceman) was skating by and I’m like ‘It’s going to be a brawl. Let’s get ready!’ I’m like, ‘I’m jumping him’. I gave Phil the heads up … I could’ve really been a dick and not gave him the heads up and grabbed him, but I gave him a little notice and he got the picture and skated away.

ON FIERY COACH JOHN TORTORELLA LIVING UP TO HIS REPUTATION IN NEW YORK

It fit it to a T. He’s just a very passionate, fiery guy. He doesn’t like something he’ll say it to your face. He just kind of has his way or the highway. And you know, that works. He gets the most out of his players. I don’t think he really wanted me to be on the team. I think he treated me like garbage a little bit. I let him know that and we had it out a few times and that was it.

ON WHY HE’S NOT SURPRISED BY THE BLUE JACKETS’ SUCCESS UNDER TORTORELLA

Because he’s a new coach there and the players are responding to it and they’re having success, but just mark my words it’ll wear off.

Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press

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