(February 1, 2016) – Forget the perfect ending for a moment. Forget that career NHL journeyman (and current AHL forward) John Scott closed Sunday’s All-Star Game as the game’s MVP, with a new set of car keys and a trophy in-hand. Forget that Scott was presented a check for $1,000,000 to go to the team he captained, the victorious Pacific Division All-Stars. And forget the how-could-you-not-be-smiling moment when Scott's teammates lifted his 258-pound frame lifted off the ice and onto their shoulders.

Even before he took his first attempt in the Hardest Shot Competition on Saturday, long before he scored each of his two goals in the All-Star Game on Sunday, John Scott was the perfect All-Star.

Of course, there are many who felt (and may still feel) the exact opposite way, including at least one member of NBC’s broadcast team covering the event this weekend. They said that Scott took the place of a player who was more deserving of the spot. They said that Scott’s selection as an all-star, much less the captain of his team, made a mockery of the idea of being an all-star.

And their logic isn’t necessarily wrong; it’s just wildly outdated.

When all-star games first became a thing, it was a great way for leagues (not just the NHL) to expose their fans to players they didn’t typically get to see. It was a way for Major League Baseball to have American Leaguers battle National Leaguers for the only day of the year that didn't fall during the World Series in the pre-Interleague Play era. It was a way for super-skilled players to be showcased to the world.

But times have changed. Now we have the Internet. And social media. And broadcast packages for our TVs, cell phones, computers and tablets so that we can watch any game from anywhere at any time.

Thirty years ago, if you lived in Los Angeles and didn’t know about players in Detroit, you had a perfectly-reasonable excuse. But, here in 2016, if you didn’t know who Dylan Larkin – the new fastest Faster Skater in NHL history – was before this weekend, it’s because you decided to ignore him.

At their best, all-star games are a fun and different way to watch one of your favorite sports and the personalities that help make those lifelong connections between fans and teams. At their worst, it’s a simple reminder that there’s no *real* football this week.

And this is something the NHL has figured out for the most part, especially in the last couple of decades. Rather than responding to criticism of its mid-season exhibition game and trying to make it “mean something” (like granting home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning league), the NHL has simply tried to tweak things to make them interesting once more.

After years and years of Conference vs Conference, they switched things up and gave us North America vs The World. Then, before that idea could get stale, they changed it again, though this time back to the familiar East vs West.

It was in 2011 that things got really interesting again, as the league moved to a Fantasy Draft format, allowing team captains to pick and choose which players they would have on their team. This gifted fans amazing moments, from the Sedin twins being split up for the first time in their careers, to the recreation of the Phil Kessel for Tyler Seguin (“and 15 first round picks”) trade, to Alexander Ovechkin begging to be picked last so that he could win the car (to donate to charity). 

It was also in the last decade that we’ve gotten the NHL’s version of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, the Breakaway Challenge. This was the perfect way to allow for the players to let their personalities shine. It gave us P.K. Subban dressed as Jaromir Jagr, Carey Price defending (and making the save!) while facing away from the shooter, Brian Elliott taking a selfie as his St. Louis Blues teammate (and All-Star Game opponent) Vladimir Tarasenko posed before taking a shot.

And then, this season, we got another change; for the first time, there would be four teams playing strictly 3-on-3 in a three-game, 20-minutes-a-game tournament. It promised (and delivered on) fast-paced action, and even made what was actually a high-scoring game even by NHL All-Star Game standards (23 total goals vs 19 goals/game average over previous 10 games) exciting from start-to-finish.

More than excitement, the constant refreshing of the All-Star Game format and tweaking and addition of events in the Skills Competition brings fun to the weekend. That’s the reason players are mic’d up during the weekend, it’s why players and referees have GoPros strapped to their helmets for the Skills events, and it’s why people watch a game that means absolutely nothing in the standings.

Now, of course, I want to see the greatest players in the world showcase their skills. I’m on the edge of my chair in anticipation as Shea Weber (or P.K. Subban or Zdeno Chara) lines up for his turn in the Hardest Shot competition. I’m staring in awe at the slow-motion replay of Patrick Kane’s dazzling stickhandling skills. But I’m also smiling ear-to-ear as a guy like John Scott is shown, giddy as can be, during player introductions.

This year’s winning-team bonus aside, players in the All-Star Game get a feather for the cap that is their career resume and a working vacation (while non-all-stars, and those who choose to decline the invitation, receive a weekend of relaxation and recuperation). At their core, all-star games aren’t about the players or the coaches or even the league; all-star games belong to the fans.

And that’s where John Scott comes in. It was the fans who decided that they wanted to see the 6-foot-8 enforcer in Nashville. It was the fans who decided that the man with five career NHL goals in 285 games should take part in a 3-on-3 game along with the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Drew Doughty and Evgeni Malkin. And you know what? That’s not just fine, that’s exactly what this whole event is about. If the fans think that a guy like John Scott should have a spot in the All-Star Game, then he deserves a spot in the All-Star Game. If fans decide that they want to see a player like Shawn Thornton (who has 40 career NHL goals) in the All-Star Game next year, then he’d be an All-Star. It’s no different from fans deciding that they wanted to see players like Cal Ripken Jr. and Derek Jeter in one final All-Star Game before they retired, or when Scotty Bowman selected a nearly-52-years-young Gordie Howe to the 1980 NHL All-Star Game; there are reasons beyond who the best players are in that particular season that make someone worthy of being an all-star.

It’s the emotional moments that leave a lasting mark on fans. It’s not just the awe-inspiring sight of seeing the torch passed as Gretzky and Howe stand shoulder-to-shoulder, or the tears flowing as Derek Jeter walks off the field during his final All-Star Game, it’s also the moments that just make you crack a smile and laugh.

Give me more of Barry Bonds putting Torii Hunter over his shoulder after being robbed of a home run. Give me more of Alexander Ovechkin in a floppy hat and sunglasses with a stick in each hand as he takes his breakaway chance. And give me more John Scott. Who knows…he might even score three goals in next year’s game.