Midway through the championship period of Sunday’s 61st annual NHL All-Star Game, fans began chanting John Scott’s name.
Each time he stepped onto the ice, they roared “M-V-P!”
And although the NHL didn’t include him in its three nominees to vote for game MVP on Twitter, the social media site was flooded with write-in votes for him.
So, after taking the long, strange road to the All-Star Game, Scott, the most unlikeliest of candidates, won the day.
Although Scott didn’t score in the Pacific Division’s 1-0 win over the Atlantic to win the game and $1 million prize, the former Arizona enforcer who now toils for a minor-league team in Canada was named the Most Valuable Player over all the millionaire superstars surrounding him.
“You can’t put it into words,’’ Scott said after being hoisted onto the shoulders of the likes of Brent Burns, Taylor Hall and Joe Pavelski.
“This has been a whirlwind. The best weekend of my life.”
After winning an online vote to become captain of the Pacific team — Florida’s Jaromir Jagr was voted to captain the Atlantic — Scott was suspiciously traded from the Coyotes to Montreal.
The Canadiens immediately demoted him to their minor-league team in New Foundland, the St. John’s IceCaps.
Scott chronicled his journey in a story he penned on The Players’ Tribune website, shedding light on how the NHL didn’t want him playing in this new 3-on-3 format.
Commissioner Gary Bettman addressed Scott’s selection on Saturday, saying “he wanted to be here, and we’re happy he is.”
Bettman also met with Scott in Nashville to smooth things over.
Scott also got in a dig at NBC analyst and former NHL star Jeremy Roenick, which sent his online stock even higher.
During an interview on the bench, Roenick apologized for comments he made about Scott not belonging at the game.
“It’s not the first time you’ve been wrong, let’s just say that,” Scott told a stone-faced Roenick.
Bettman announced Scott as the MVP and handed over the oversized check representing the winning team’s haul.
Each player on the Pacific team will pocket close to $91,000 — which works out to about 15 percent of Scott’s base NHL salary this season.
“You saw the fans but also his teammates and our team were so excited to see him win that,’’ said Florida’s Gerard Gallant, the coach of the Atlantic team.
“He worked hard and has a lot of things going on in his life right now. But that was a real special moment.”
As MVP, Scott also gets a new Honda minivan, something he said he asked his temporary teammates to donate to him if they won.
After all, his wife, Danielle, is about to give birth to twins.
“I need it,’’ he said. “I’m going to have four kids pretty soon.”
Scott, who has just five goals in 285 NHL games, scored twice in the Pacific’s 9-6 victory over the Central team, which set up a championship showdown against an Atlantic team featuring three members of the Panthers.
In the championship period, Roberto Luongo stopped all 12 shots he faced in the opening 10 minutes before handing things over to Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop.
With 6:22 left, Anaheim’s Corey Perry beat Bishop and, surprisingly based on the wide-open nature of the 3-on-3 session, that was it.
The Atlantic, despite pulling Bishop and going 4-on-3 for the final 90 seconds, couldn’t beat Anaheim’s John Gibson, and the All-Star win belonged to Scott and his Pacific teammates.
It was a great moment, obviously, one not lost on the guys from the other side.
“As much as I hate to lose, if I ever wanted to lose a game, I’m glad we lost [Sunday],’’ Jagr said.
“It’s a great story. Everyone thought it would be bad for hockey, and it turned out to be one of the best stories in hockey.
“He truly deserved it. The fans voted for him, and he played good. The [NHL] probably doesn’t know what good he did.”
Said Luongo: “He deserves it, popped in a couple in the first game. I can’t imagine what it means for him to be here. We’re all happy for him that he got a chance to win this. It was a fairytale ending.’’
The Panthers advanced to the championship period — the All-Star Game this year was broken up into three 20-minute periods, with the league broken up into its four divisions — by winning the opener 4-3 over the Metropolitan Division.
Of the four goals, two were scored by Florida players as Jagr tied the score at 2 before Aaron Ekblad tied it at 3.
Montreal’s P.K. Subban, who impersonated Jagr in Saturday’s skills competition, gave the Atlantic its first and final lead with 4:38 left.
“I thought it was outstanding,” Gallant said.
“I didn’t think it was going to be that competitive, but the guys didn’t want to make any mistakes.”
▪ Luongo and Washington goalie Braden Holtby met Sunday but won’t face each other Tuesday night when the Panthers visit the Capitals.
Both Luongo and Holtby, favored to be Vezina Trophy contenders, will take the night off.