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What the John Scott mess taught the NHL about the All-Star Game

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Amid controversy Scott still All-Star captain (3:15)

ESPN NHL writer Scott Burnside breaks down the NHL's decision to allow John Scott to take part in the All-Star Game even though Scott was traded to Montreal and demoted. (3:15)

In the latest episode of "As The John Scott Turns," our hero is vindicated and will in fact lead the Pacific Division charge into All-Star weekend in Nashville, Tennessee -- even if, well, he doesn’t really play for a Pacific Division team anymore and in fact is entirely unlikely to play in the NHL again. But we digress. Here are three things we learned from the NHL's decision to reinstate Scott to the All-Star roster as he was voted a captain by fans before he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens last week.

1. Fans are pretty important to the NHL. They pretty much pull the freight, you know, buying tickets and merchandise and watching and listening and reading. But there’s a limit to which fans can be trusted, and the NHL learned the hard way what that limit is. The league also learned, apparently too late, there’s a thing called the Internet and it can be used to do just about anything, including vote a marginal player into a prominent role at one of the league’s marquee events. Too bad that memo got through a little late. But it won’t happen again, will it? Nope. Guessing the league will encourage fans to vote for their favorite players but within strictly defined guidelines; as in the NHL can be expected to provide a nice list of players they can vote for, and beyond that they can pound salt. That's what should have happened this season.

2. The league wins, either way. Has there ever in the history of the NHL All-Star Game been this much discussion about the format and who will take part? Guessing not. So it will be interesting to see what kind of ratings the Nashville event gets compared to the most recent ones in Columbus, Ottawa and Carolina. Our bet is the ratings are through the relative roof. The NHL might not have orchestrated the Scott trade to Montreal and it might not have seen this coming, but the league is going to be laughing all the way to the attention bank, which is good in a sad way.

3. The situation is still a mess. Scott deserves to be at the All-Star Game because that’s what the fans wanted. But there is also $1 million on the line for the winning division, and the 3-on-3 format is not a good place for Scott given his modest skills. No one wants Scott to be embarrassed (beyond the embarrassment of having been identified as the least likely of all All-Star players). In fact, that’s why the NHL first approached Scott about attending the event but not playing. But play he shall. The unfortunate part, or rather another unfortunate part, is that the decision now leaves the Arizona Coyotes as a team without a participant. No Oliver Ekman-Larsson, no Shane Doan and no Max Domi. Just John Scott, who doesn’t play for the Coyotes anymore. Kind of makes you shake your head even more.