John Scott played only his seventh game Friday. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Ex-Sabres tough guy John Scott wants NHL All-Star spot

BUFFALO – The sight, of course, would be odd. Just imagine 6-foot-8 former Sabres tough guy John Scott, who has five goals in his eight-year career, competing against superstars like Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos in the new three-on-three NHL All-Star Game format.

If fans keep casting online ballots for Scott, that could happen Jan. 31 in Nashville.

Right now, Scott, a healthy scratch 19 times with the Arizona Coyotes this season, is the leading NHL All-Star vote-getter.

That’s not a misprint. Scott, 33, has more votes than Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and every other NHL player. Scott could even captain a squad if he leads his division in votes.

Scott, who played only his seventh game Friday, won’t shy away from the attention. Instead, he wants to embrace it.

“I think it’s cool and fun, and if the fans want to throw me in the All-Star Game, I’ll definitely go,” Scott said Friday prior to the Coyotes’ 5-2 loss to the Sabres inside the First Niagara Center. “It’s kind of an honor. It’s one of those things where not everybody gets to go, so I’m not going to be upset about it and pout about it. You’ve got to roll with it and have fun with it.”

Still, the voting has garnered so much attention, the upstart Coyotes issued a statement from Scott on Thursday. Scott said while he’s “truly flattered and grateful” for the votes, “I think a few of my teammates are a bit more deserving of the vote.”

“I just don’t want it to be a distraction,” Scott said. “I’m happy. I hope it keeps rolling.”

The attention, he said, is “not embarrassing as long as you kind of go about it the right way.”

“I’m not going to focus on the negatives,” Scott said. “Obviously, the fans like me.”

Fans here loved Scott, a popular teammate and a favorite wherever he plays, during his 90-game run over two seasons. His 2013 shellacking of Shawn Thornton in Boston is perhaps the team’s most memorable fight of the last 10 years.

The Sabres’ new regime let the winger go in 2014, choosing to go without a tough guy. These days, most teams don’t carry a player whose greatest asset is fighting.

But Scott, who signed a one-year deal in July after a season in San Jose, possesses other qualities. The Coyotes clearly want him to mentor their young talent. Scott joked he’s a “cheerleader.”

“I’m good around the guys,” he said. “I kind of have a good personality, I guess. I like to kind of research the game. I know kind of every position. I kind of keep guys sharp and keep them accountable. So I just don’t sit there and do my job.

“If I’m not playing on the bench, I really focus on what’s going on there. If someone’s not doing their job, I’ll let them know. I don’t want to say I’m a coach out there, but I try to just be an extra (set of) eyes for the coach, for the guys.”

Notes: Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said the Sabres will recall a forward before they leave for a three-game road trip today. They sent forward Tim Schaller to Rochester so he could play for the Americans on Friday. … Sabres winger Matt Moulson played his 500th NHL game. “That’ll be 500 more than I thought I’d play about 15 years ago,” Moulson joked Friday morning. … Former Sabres goalie Anders Lindback is the Coyotes’ backup this season. … The Sabres scratched defenseman Mike Weber.

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