NASHVILLE -- The man without a team was the main attraction Friday at All-Star Media Day. John Scott was frank, playful and seemingly relieved to be finally at Bridgestone Arena as an actual All-Star as he did a 15-minute session in front of several dozen reporters.
Scott's giant puck on the arena plaza clearly shows him in an airbrushed Arizona sweater with the NHL logo on the front, and his jersey in Saturday night's skills competition will be a generic black one with the game's logo on the crest. Voted in by the fans, then traded by Arizona to Montreal and banished to the minors in Newfoundland, Scott was seemingly persona non grata in the eyes of the league.
Public pressure clearly got the league to relent and Scott criticized the NHL in his Players Tribune piece that was published Thursday. He said Friday he cleared the air with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman here Thursday night.
"Now that I'm here, they've been very welcoming," Scott said of NHL officials. "I sat down with Gary and we had a quick chat. He said, 'We're happy to have you here, we're going to have a good time, make the best of it and just have fun in Nashville.'
"We just had a quick talk. I think he was worried about me not feeling welcomed here and feeling uncomfortable in this whole situation. He said, 'We're happy you're here, we wanted you to be here, just go have fun and our support is behind you.' It was nice to hear that coming from him because there was a timewhere I was not really sure how the league felt, but he kind of put those thoughts to rest."
Bettman confirmed the crux of the chat with the Associated Press on Friday. "He's more than welcome to be here,'' Bettman said. ''We're happy he's here. The fans spoke, and we're happy to reflect their will."
The players are universally behind the presence of Scott, who played a career-high 56 games for the Sabres during the 2013-14 season. He was voted in by the fans and they pretty much all feel he should thus have his spot.
"He did a great job of presenting himself to the league and being able to come to the game," said South Buffalo native Patrick Kane, a former teammate of Scott's in Chicago. "Why not? He's voted in. He's a fun-loving guy and he'll represent the game well and try to do the best as he can when he's here so why not have him here?
"I had fun with him setting the skills competition lineups. Nothing changed with him. great guy. I'm happy he's here. I think it will be cool for him and his family to look back on it in future years and enjoy this weekend."
San Jose defenseman Brent Burns, who played with Scott on the Sharks last year, pretty much echoed Kane's sentiments.
"Even with Johnny being a tough guy, there's not a nicer guy around," Burns said. "He's really intelligent with his background. It's good for fans to see that. For us, we see all these tough guys are teddy bears, the nicest guys off the ice. That's the case with Johnny. People will enjoy getting to know him. He's a piece of work, that's for sure."
Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly said he met Scott for the first time Friday and added his support.
"He's a great guy and it's an exciting experience for all of us, especially him. It's probably a little frustrating being traded like that and going through all that. I got to meet him this morning, briefly say hi and he seemed in good spirits. It was a pleasure to meet him."
Scott will take part in the hardest shot competition in Saturday's skills events. As for Sunday's 3-on-3 game, he has no idea how that will go.
"That's the question of the day. I don't know," he said with a big smile. "I've never played it so I can't really tell you. I guess I'll have to just wing it."
Scott warned reporters near the end of his session not to move from his podium because he wanted a picture of them. And he was serious too. The questions ended and Scott whipped out his phone.
"All right don't move, don't move," he said as his shutter clicked. "Hold on. Everyone smile. OK, thank you. Very cool."