John Scott is a forward for the St. John's IceCaps of the American Hockey League. He will also serve as the captain of the Pacific Division team in the 2016 NHL All-Star Game on Sunday in Nashville.
Scott, an enforcer with the Arizona Coyotes during the fan voting process, was embraced by a Twitter movement that rallied around the hashtag #VoteJohnScott. His All-Star selection was controversial, given his career line of 285 games, five goals and six assists in eight NHL seasons. His status for the game became an even bigger question when he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens and sent to their AHL affiliate after winning the fan vote.
The NHL decided Scott would be allowed to captain the Pacific squad (this year's All-Star Game will be a three-on-three tournament with four teams, one representing each division) even though he had been dealt out of the division and sent to the minors.
Scott would be the first to admit he's not an All-Star-caliber hockey player, but there's actually a long history of pro athletes getting questionable levels of All-Star support based on popularity or a punch line rather than merit. Here are some examples of fans making headlines with dubious All-Star voting.
Kansas City Royals, MLB, 2015
Less than one month before last year's All-Star Game in Cincinnati, a Royals player held the top spot in American League voting at eight positions, including designated hitter. Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout was the only non-Royal in line to make the starting lineup. Although the Royals were the defending AL champions and on their way to a World Series title, their dominance in the voting raised eyebrows. Omar Infante, who hit .236 with zero home runs before the break, was the leader at second base until he was passed by Houston Astros star Jose Altuve late in the voting. The Royals ended up with four starters: shortstop Alcides Escobar, catcher Salvador Perez and outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon. That was more than the team had in the previous 25 years combined.
Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo Sabres, NHL, 2015
"The Latvian Locomotive" was the runaway leader in 2015 fan voting, with 1,574,896 votes -- more than 300,000 more than runner-up Patrick Kane. Girgensons, in his second NHL season, entered the All-Star Game in Columbus ranked 168th in the NHL in points (22) and 61st in goals (13) -- not exactly the superstar level his vote total would indicate. The league said 79 percent of the forward's votes came from his native Latvia, a hockey-mad country with a population of two million. "They're crazy fans, I can tell you that," Girgensons said. "They always cheer, no matter what the score is." A total of 29 goals were scored in the All-Star game, but Girgensons didn't register a point.
Yao Ming, Houston Rockets, NBA, 2011
Yao played in only five games in 2010-11 and none after the seventh game of the season. He was ruled out for the year in December because of a stress fracture in his ankle and never played in the NBA again. Regardless, the Chinese big man and worldwide icon was voted the starting center for the West All-Stars. San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan ended up taking Yao's starting spot in Los Angeles, and the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love was added to the roster.
Rory Fitzpatrick, Vancouver Canucks, NHL, 2007
Fitzpatrick was a journeyman playing for his fifth team when an online campaign made him an unlikely 2007 All-Star candidate. A Vancouver programmer developed a Firefox browser plug-in he called the "Rory Vote-O-Matic" to let fans fill out ballots automatically, and VoteForRory.com was created to promote Fitzpatrick. It almost worked, as Fitzpatrick finished a close third in the Western Conference race for two starting defenseman spots. He was 23,000 votes behind runner-up Nicklas Lidstrom, a four-time Norris Trophy winner.
Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors, NBA, 2003
Carter was voted a starter for the 2003 East All-Stars, despite his missing 33 of the Raptors' first 48 games because of injuries. Before the All-Star Game tipped off in Atlanta, Carter turned his starting spot over to fellow North Carolina product Michael Jordan, who was in his final NBA season with the Washington Wizards. Carter scored nine points in 25 minutes off the bench.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, 1998
Bryant was a 19-year old reserve for the Lakers in his second NBA season, but he was already one of the most popular players in the league. He rode that wave of popularity into a starting guard spot in the 1998 All-Star Game in New York. Bryant entered the game with only six NBA starts to his credit, but he more than held his own as an All-Star starter. He scored a West-high 18 points in 22 minutes and often went head-to-head with Michael Jordan, who scored 23 points and took home MVP honors. As he finishes his career, Bryant's All-Star selections have come into question. He was voted a starter for the 2013 and '14 games, despite playing in a total of 41 regular-season contests those seasons, and he was the top vote-getter for next month's game, even though he is shooting a career-low 34 percent from the field this season.
A.C. Green, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, 1990
The NBA's iron man was a solid, dependable power forward for the Lakers, but in 1990, fans gave him the starting nod ahead of Utah Jazz star Karl Malone, the previous year's All-Star Game MVP. Going into the game, Malone was second in the league in scoring (30.6 points), fifth in rebounding (11.1) and fourth in field goal percentage (58.4 percent). Green, meanwhile, averaged 13.3 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 47.8 percent. Malone was so angry about the snub that he threatened to skip the game altogether. He wound up appearing for the festivities in Miami after being named a reserve, but he didn't play because of an injury -- though he didn't miss any regular-season games.
Cincinnati Reds, MLB, 1957
Voting irregularities existed long before the Internet shenanigans seen in recent years. All but one of the eight Reds players on the 1957 National League ballot finished first in the voting (St. Louis Cardinals legend Stan Musial edged out George Crowe at first base), but a league investigation revealed ballot stuffing in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Inquirer had printed prefilled ballots for fans to mail in, and some local bars reportedly wouldn't serve patrons until they filled out ballots with Reds players. MLB commissioner Ford Frick let five of the selections stand for the game in St. Louis but replaced outfielders Gus Bell (who remained on the team as a reserve) and Wally Post with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Frick then took voting rights away from all fans, who weren't allowed back into baseball's All-Star selection process until 1970.