We were on the power play against a garbage team, what could go wrong?
After being named the captain of my junior team shortly after I turned 18, one of our first games was against Metro. Metro was known for rostering a handful of goons who were about to age out. They were all size, no skill.
We ran a simple umbrella, and as I took the puck on the right outside hash in the offensive zone and shuffled backward up to the middle of the blue line, I was trucked from behind. One of Metro’s many 6’4″ idiots who could barely skate tagged me right in the numbers. After watching the game film, he left his feet and drove both forearms into the back of my head, which drove my face right into the ice.
My visor flew up, and the results were a broken nose, two teeth knocked out, and blood everywhere. Needless to say, I was pissed. The trainer shoved two tampons in my nose to handle the bleeding, and put the two teeth that were in my mouthguard in a ziploc bag full of milk until I got to the dentist. After it all happened, I remember looking up to see what had happened to the guy who had hit me.
Why nothing? Because our team didn’t have a John Scott.
When we played teams like Metro, you were always a little nervous. Nervous that someone was going to cheap shot you, or your career was going to be ended on some embarrassing series of events because we had no one who they would have to answer to. That is, until Langer arrived.
Who’s Langer? This is Langer – the guy in white who landed about 15 clean punches and broke that kid’s orbital in that fight. When we got wind that we acquired him, I was the happiest guy in the room. Finally, someone who could fight. But, Langer would end up being one of our biggest offensive threats as well.
With him, we were actually a respectable team. We swept the CSHL showcase, and even beat Peoria 3-2, who was one of the best teams in our league. I scored twice, and Langer fought the coach’s son. He even taught me how to trash talk the opposing goalie from the bench in that game.
Point of the story is, most people don’t understand what having a John Scott on their team does for the confidence of the skill players. Having Langer on the bench allowed me to go out there and do me, and I knew I was protected if something happened. After we acquired him, opposing players laid off me, and my stats shot way up. They knew that cross checking the captain or taking a run at me from behind was not worth having to answer the door with Langer knocking.
Watching John Scott do what he did in the 2016 All-Star Game made me so happy for numerous reasons. It really is always better when what happens in real life is better than any script. It’s ridiculous what the NHL tried to do to him. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that an NHL official asked him if he thought that his kids would be proud of him for playing in the All-Star game. Please.
There’s a reason why the players embraced him as much as they did – they understand how important the role of enforcer is in the game of hockey. John Scott was representing all of the enforcers who stepped on the ice before him and allowed the skill players to go out and be magical.
Wayne Gretzky wouldn’t have been Wayne Gretzky without Marty McSorley or Dave Semenko there to be his bodyguards. The reason why the Great One didn’t ever get hit wasn’t because he was that good at evading checks, it was because no one wanted to risk touching him because they knew that one of the two aforementioned guys would clean their clock if they did.
John Scott has been a journeyman in the NHL. He’s been in seven different organizations since 2009, yet still continues to have an incredible attitude toward his role.
Scott may never play another game in the NHL. It’s likely that he’ll be an AHL warrior until he decides to hang up his skates. But, last night he proved he belonged, and that’s likely all he wanted to do. He deserves to look back on this past weekend for the rest of his life and smile.
While driving his four kids around in the new car he just won for being named the All-Star Game’s MVP, I hope he remembers what guys like him did for the skill players like me who needed him. To some, this whole fiasco may have been a publicity stunt to increase viewership or create storylines.
But for a washed up kid like me, it brought me back. And words can’t describe how great it felt to see one of the many guys who play the enforcer role get some retribution to a league that never wanted him to step foot on the ice in the first place.
Thank you, John, for letting us set up the umbrella and know that we are now invincible.
You can follow Shane Darrow on Twitter @ShaneDarrow.