John Scott captivated the hockey world, and his story is made for Hollywood -- literally.
Mandalay Sports Media recently acquired the feature rights, and Mitch Albom will write the movie script of Scott's life and hockey career, which culminated with the 2016 NHL All-Star Game in Nashville.
As a write-in candidate by the fans, Scott, an enforcer by trade, ultimately won the game's MVP award and was hoisted onto his teammates' shoulders in celebration.
It didn't take long for the movie idea to become reality. There is an agreement in place, but the project won't happen overnight. In fact, it could take a couple of years before it hits the screen.
"It's a long way from that," said Albom, who said the project still needs studio backing, financing, a director and actors before the next step is put into motion. "I don't want to mislead anybody that you go from this to start filming next week. It's a long way from that."
Albom, who will also serve as executive producer, called it a dream project for a screenwriter because he doesn't have to invent anything. The story tells itself.
"This just seemed to be a story that'll hold up," he said. "And for people that don't know that it's a true story, and they watch it if it becomes a movie, they're going to be pinching themselves, going, 'Oh, c'mon. They had to make that up.' We don't have to make anything up."
Albom, 57, is a longtime sportswriter for the Detroit Free Press and a regular on ESPN's Sports Reporters and SportsCenter. He has written three movies, four plays and seven books but explained that each project is different.
"In this case, you don't want a movie to come out next week," he said. "It just happened, so you want to give it a little time and a little perspective, but on the other hand you don't want a movie coming out 20 years from now, either, when nobody remembers what we're talking about."
If the process is successful, it normally takes a couple of years for it to be completed.
"As the writer, I want to go spend some time with John and his family," Albom said. "I'm interested in telling this incident as a story, but also just the whole life of a guy on the fringes of hockey. When John said to me, 'I live year to year in hockey. I'm not like those guys that have long-term contracts.' He only once in his life had a two-year contract, and I think people can relate to that, and that's the kind of film I would like to see. You don't have to be a hockey fan to understand it."
"When John said to me, 'I live year-to-year in hockey. I'm not like those guys that have long-term contracts.' He only once in his life had a two-year contract, and I think people can relate to that and that's the kind of film I would like to see. You don't have to be a hockey fan to understand it."Mitch Albom
Albom compared Scott's story to that of the fictional character Rocky Balboa from the "Rocky" series.
A fun topic of conversation has been which actor could play John Scott in the movie. Most think Liev Schreiber would be perfect for the role. The two look alike, and Schreiber played an enforcer in the hockey movie "Goon."
Albom said he hasn't thought about which actor would be best for the role, but after a brief moment he quickly came up with someone he thinks would be perfect.
"My first choice by a million years would be Tom Hardy, because I think he's the best actor in the world and he can play rough," Albom said, noting that Hardy, at 5-foot-9, is "a lot shorter" than Scott, who is 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds.
"But [Hardy] can act tall. My answer would be Tom Hardy for everything."
This project will be a chance for Albom to finally work with good friend Mike Tollin of Mandalay Sports Media. The idea for a movie originated the week before the All-Star Game. With all the controversy surrounding Scott's All-Star nomination, Albom spoke with Scott and wrote a column about the situation.
During their conversation, Albom told Scott don't be surprised if someone wants to make a movie about it. As the All-Star Game played out, Albom and Tollin were in contact.
"I texted him, 'Are you watching this? This is incredible,'" Albom said. "Mike made some calls to his representatives, and he found out there were a bunch of people suddenly interested in making a movie."
Ultimately, Scott and his representatives decided Tollin and Albom would be best for the project.
Albom said he has been asked to write sports movies in the past, but declined. He said he feels this one is different.
"To me, this is really not a sports movie," he said. "This is really a story for our time, because the Internet and what the Internet does to people is very current."
The Arizona Coyotes traded Scott, 33, to the Montreal Canadiens after the controversial All-Star vote became official. He was then sent to St. John's of the AHL as the NHL tried to figure out a course of action.
After much debate with the league, Scott refused to withdraw from the All-Star Game. He led the Pacific Division to victory as captain during the 3-on-3 tournament and won his share of the $1 million prize.
In the midst of all this, his wife, Danielle, was pregnant with twins and was in attendance to watch her husband become a hockey folk hero. She delivered twin girls on Feb. 5.
Scott has 542 penalty minutes in 285 career NHL games.
"John's a stand up guy, and he's very intelligent," Albom said. "He has this all in perspective, and while he makes his living with his fists, it's clear that he has a mind and he's got a love for his family and he's watching out for his family."