Catching up with John Scott
by Scott King
WGN Radio caught up with former Blackhawk and 2016 NHL All-Star MVP John Scott recently to discuss the state of the Blackhawks, an update on the movie based on his life, what it was like to play for Joel Quenneville and more.
Scott, who played in 69 games with the Hawks (2010-2011 and 2011-2012), has a podcast called Dropping the Gloves with John Scott available on iTunes. The former 6’8 260-lb enforcer also has a book Guy Like Me available on Amazon and most places books are sold.
As someone known to keep things light in the room, did you feel pressure to always fill that role?
I never felt I needed to be that guy. You obviously have times in the season where you know you have to do something, but you just kind of… It was a part of my personality. Hockey was fun for me and I didn’t want to make it into a job where it was serious and not fun.
That’s why everywhere I went, I just had that mentality. When I played with the Sabres, we lost like 10 in-a-row. I was like, ‘You know what, we can either sit here and throw a pity party or just work hard and still have fun.’ That’s what I tried to do. I guess guys in my role that didn’t have that mentality, they didn’t really last long.
You can’t just be a one-dimensional fighter. You have to bring some other stuff and hey, if that meant me being a good room guy and bringing guys up, having a different dimension to my personality that’s what I did.
I never worked at it, I never, ‘Okay, today’s the day I need to bring the guys up’, it was just something that came natural.
Does having someone like that around break up the day-to-day grind of a season?
Yeah, a hockey lifestyle can get monotonous and boring if you do the same thing every day. You need something to break it up and I love doing that, where I just try to mix things up and do something funny or crack a joke, just get after the coaches. You need that or else guys go crazy.
Did you use humor at young age to help cope with being taller than all the other kids?
It is funny, probably, because it’s when you’re younger and you’re tall, people just… You’re a target. And if you let it get to you, it can kind of ruin you. I just maybe joked it off and laughed it off and had some fun with the idea. I think that actually helped in a way being so big early on where I just used my humor to get me through sometimes.
Does it mean something to you to be regarded as one of the best fighters in NHL history?
It’s kind of neat. I don’t regard myself in that area. But it’s kind of neat to be in the conversation, just because growing up guys who you watch are the scorers and the fighters. When I was growing up it was Tie Domi, Bob Probert, then you watched the scorers, like my favorite guy was Ray Bourque and Wayne Gretzky and those guys.
It’s cool to be in that conversation and you know, I’m flattered by it, and yeah, I was a fighter. I tried to be good at what I did. So if I’m one of the best ones that did it, that’s a huge accomplishment.
How do you feel about fighting not being as big a part of the game anymore?
I don’t mind it. I think we’re going really (far in one direction), no fighting this way. I think we’re going to have a tipping point where it kind of pushes back the other way and we find a happy medium.
I think in the 80s and 90s we got a little too far with the one-dimensional fighters who just played two minutes then fought twice and that was it. So we’re going to find a happy medium and then the league will be in a good spot.
I think it serves a purpose and I like the fights now. I think when there is a fight, it’s during the game, it’s passionate, lots of energy and stuff and it still has a place in the game.
Are you worried about enforcers being forced out of the game?
I still think it’s a tool, it’s an asset you can use. I think coaches still see it as, ‘That guy, he’s pretty tough he has an outlet to physicality and guys are going to be scared of him.’
But you can’t just be a one-dimensional player anymore, you have to bring other assets, you have to be able to be on the PK, be a good fourth liner, win faceoffs. There’s other aspects of the game, you can’t just focus on being a fighter like you used to be able to do.
What was it like rooming with Bryan Bickell?
It’s funny, you go into the roommate situation and you just hope you get a good one. I’ve had some bad ones along the way, some weirdos. Then when you get a guy you kind of gel with it’s like, ‘Yes, perfect.’ It was just a movie where it’s like, ‘Yes, finally I found you.’
We just have a similar personality. I have a more dominant personality, I think and he has a more just kind of passive personality so that works with us. Where I can give him a hard time all the time and he’s like, ‘Whatever, John. Whatever.’ It worked perfectly. I love the guy.
Is there an update on the movie?
Yeah, it’s still in the works, but I just talked to Mitch a week and a half ago, he’s the one who’s writing and producing it, and we are very close to [selecting] an actor to play me, which is good, and then hopefully once we have those dominoes in place, we can just start getting locations and stuff setting up. That was the hard part, finding actors.
So moving along, but no timeframe?
No, it’s like Mitch always tells me, movies take forever. You’re pretty much a hostage to the actor’s schedule, if you want a good actor, because they have movies lined up for years.
At least it’s still working, which is good. I thought it was going to be dead in the water after a year. But yeah, they’re still working on it.
Were you going to work as an analyst following your All-Star MVP?
I toyed around with the idea. I worked with TSN for a little bit, I did a little thing with the NHL Network, but I don’t want to leave Traverse City and that’s the big sticking point. My wife wants me to stay and so do I. That’s why I didn’t really pursue that any longer.
Were you surprised at Quenneville being fired by the Blackhawks earlier this season?
It’s like, what does a coach have to do these days to stay with the team? He won three Cups in how many years? Six years, brought the team out of the basement, the players love him, unless I’m missing something, I’m pretty well-connected with the team and I know the guys still love him. It’s just too bad.
If someone has to take the fall it’s going to be the coach because the GM’s not going to lay on the sword, he’s going to have to fire somebody. So, you know, it’s a business.
It stinks because I think and a lot of people think he’s one of the best coaches out there. Hopefully it works out with Chicago, I love that team, I love the organization, but I think they lost a good coach there.
Did he appreciate and respect guys who played like you did?
Yeah, I think that’s the kind of player he was. He appreciated guys who worked hard and just did their job, so he gave me an opportunity, he gave me time on the power play sometimes when the top guys weren’t playing, which was pretty crazy. I just really respected how he handled his players.
I never second-guessed my [situation] with him. If I wasn’t playing in a few games, he’d be like, ‘Johnny, we’re not using you, sorry.’, and I was fine with it. Where other coaches would be like, ‘Well, we might use you,’ this and that, and ‘just stay sharp.’ He would just flat out tell me, ‘We don’t need you this week. Get some work in.’ And I loved that about him.
If something wasn’t going good, he’d be like, ‘Johny get out there.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, finally.’ He loved rewarding guys. He was such a good coach.
What’s missing with the Hawks?
I think obviously the goaltending situation has just been a huge question mark the last few years with Crow (Corey Crawford) being injured, guys being back and forth and you can’t really have a winning team without a steady guy back there. And then it’s just tough, the defense was good for so many years and I think when they traded Hjalmarsson (Niklas Hjalmarsson) that really affected their D core.
They had the three guys back there they could kind of put guys in with them, brought them in and out and now you only really have Duncs (Duncan Keith) and Seabs (Brent Seabrook). It’s hard to have a six-man rotation when you don’t have a lot of guys who you trust and rely on. When you don’t have a steady goalie and six solid D men, that’s not a recipe for success.
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