The NHL All-Star weekend is over, and John Scott stole the show. While I was opposed to John Scott going at all when he initially began to rocket up the voting list, like many others, I was appalled at the reports of how the NHL handled the situation, and sympathized with him.
He acted like the consummate professional, had himself a great time, and made the All-Star weekend fun for everyone in the process. His being named MVP capped off a great weekend; one that had almost every hockey fan in his corner throughout.
Then came many suggesting that perhaps the struggling Montreal Canadiens could benefit from recalling Scott, and using him in their lineup. Antiquated arguments about the benefits of having pure enforcers in the lineup were plenty, even under the banner of some highly respected publications. Even Michel Therrien fell short of quashing the idea when asked about it.
Question: "Est-ce que John Scott pourrait donner une étincelle au #CH ?"— Chantal Machabee (@ChantalMachabee) February 1, 2016
Michel Therrien en souriant :"On ne sait jamais!" #RDS
I don't want to take anything away from Scott, or what happened over the All-Star weekend, but now the NHL is back to actual regular-season hockey. The Canadiens have been in a free-fall for some time, and to suggest that John Scott could be the guy to pull them out of it is ludicrous.
I'm going to go over a few reasons that have been provided as to why he could help the Canadiens, and try to explain why they're just not valid.
He'll fight for his teammates, going against guys they can't personally
Luckily for me, I have a colleague at EOTP named Scott Matla, who penned not one, not two, not three, but four pieces detailing his research on fighting in hockey. He was able to conclude that fighting, and the presence of enforcers on NHL teams do not correlate with winning.
The analysis debunking John Scott's ability to help the team by getting in fights is already there, so I need not elaborate on that much more than my colleague already has. There are glaring issues with the system and bouts of bad shooting luck that need to be overcome, and adding an enforcer to the mix will fall woefully short of solving those problems.
His presence creates space for teammates, and makes them feel more secure
Sure, creating some more space for Montreal's scoring players could actually help with the lack of goals. However, to create space for your teammates you need to actually be on the ice attracting defensive attention away from others. John Scott is a career fourth-liner, who can play maybe eight minutes per game at most.
The only way he could create space for Montreal's scoring players is to actually be on the ice when they are. Does anyone realistically think that he can skate with the likes of Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, or Alex Galchenyuk? I certainly don't.
Because enforcers are believed to give the players around them a little more sense of security, there is the corresponding notion that they allow for their teammates to have more success. But remember when Marc Savard fell victim to a vicious headshot from Matt Cooke, and noted tough guy Milan Lucic was mere feet away?
If any given player is going to do something dirty, chances are they're going to do it no matter what. Simply having someone that could avenge it after the fact does very little, since punishing that player physically isn't going to undo the damage.
He's good in the room
This I cannot argue to be untrue. Over the weekend it became very clear that he's a great guy to be around, his positive attitude seems infectious, and his teammates seem to genuinely love him. But what impact could that possibly have in terms of getting the Habs back into the win column?
For starters, the general impression I have been given is that there are no problems in the Canadiens room. As such, it would be completely unnecessary to bring someone up just to try and give them a better dynamic there. After all, you could stock your room with all the nicest and coolest people in the world, it won't matter if they aren't good at hockey.
Why not? The media would love it, and the team doesn't have much to lose.
Sure, after all that he's been through this year it makes for a great story, and the media would eat it up. But seriously, the Habs should bring up an enforcer who will not help them win because it makes for good publicity?
That is one of the most ridiculous ideas that has been brought up, because they're not there to please the media, and they're not there to provide the world with feel-good stories. They're there to win hockey games. Scott's story may be able to distract everyone for a bit, but let's face it; this is Montreal, and nothing can distract from the losses piling up for long.
The Habs don't need grit, they need more goals. They don't need to protect their star players, because none of the time those players have missed has been thanks to cheap shots. They don't need to intimidate other teams physically, they need to find better ways to overwhelm them offensively.
If there is such thing as a quick fix, it definitely isn't John Scott, it would be Carey Price. He's not yet available, so the team needs to figure out a way to string together some wins while the wait continues. I am beyond certain that injecting an enforcer to play between four and eight minutes per night is not going to accomplish that.
Scott may have been the hero of the NHL All-Star weekend, but if you honestly think he's the answer to what ails the Canadiens right now, then I'm not sure what else to say.