John Scott the Student Athlete

Before we get started on this story, here is one final reminder about the John Scott Signed Book Giveaway. Our first Smelter in February will go out on Friday, February 3rd. That edition will contain the names of our lucky winner. All you have to do is be on the Smelter list by the end of the day on February 1st (today, if you're reading on the day this is published), and you'll be entered into our drawing for a signed copy of John's book, A Guy Like Me (unless you write for Tech Hockey Guide... that just wouldn't be cool). If you want to sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Smelter, click here to be directed to our signup page. Stay tuned for another chance to win coming soon!

Over the years, many Michigan Tech fans have had the chance to personally interact with John Scott, whether it be at a party in Houghton, a class at Michigan Tech (yes, he went), body painting to show support in his first game back after a suspension, an event like his first NHL game or last year's Desert Hockey Classic. After his book was announced, I wanted to assemble these stories in one place to share the Michigan Tech side of John Scott that many of us experienced.

We start with some experiences at Michigan Tech.

My first experience other than seeing the big man on the ice was a random Saturday night. My roommate and I were walking down College Ave on our way to get some food after a party and there was John, holding a case of High Life outside "The Embassy," a nickname given to his house because for apparently several years it had housed a bunch of the Canadians playing on the hockey team. I recognized him instantly, introduced myself and he was nothing but nice, including offering us a beer. That was the first of many encounters, that came far more frequently after the birth of Mitch's Misfits, but let's talk a little more about his education.

John sat in front of me in Calculus III. How or why that worked, I’m not sure. How could I see the board with this 6’8” wall directly in front of me? One day we got an exam back and I saw that John got a better grade than I did. I felt embarrassed.
— Bethlyn Cummings, Mitch's Misfits Founding Member

What Bethlyn didn't realize at that point was that this wasn't John's first crack at Calculus III. To be honest though, John was a pretty good student. Another friend of mine had Clean Snowmobile Enterprise with John. My friend was pretty impressed with the fact that John really knew what was going on and basically did most of the work and really showed up his partner.

The first I ever heard of John Scott was during a Blue Line luncheon with Mike Sertich. He said what an outstanding player he would be and doubted we would keep him for the full four years.

A 6’8” player likely to go onto the NHL, I’m all over that, so the next time Tech had a “Skate with the Huskies” I was on board. No worries, I was 55 years older than most of the little ones out there. I laced up my hockey skates (I hadn’t skated in a long time) and staggered along. Just then, John came by and asked if he could help. Hell, yes!! So he graciously took me around the rink giving me some skating tips: bend your knees more, keep your head up, etc. He could not have been kinder or more gracious.

A few weeks before the Huskies had played North Dakota at the Mac, this little pip squeak, Ryan Hale, had been bugging John all game. When the whistle blew, Hale skated up to John and shoved him in the chest. Well, it was more like his waist because Hale was pretty short, but it started a fight. Sertich said later Hale landed one punch and John got in 11. Hale left the ice in a bloody blob, probably missing some teeth too.

I wasn’t sure if this was proper hockey protocol, but as I skated with John I told him I was very glad to see him beat up Hale. There was a long pause and I wondered if I had broken some unspoken rule. After a few minutes of silence John turned and looked at me and said quietly, “Me too.”
— Sue Scanlan, long time Huskies supporter

That fight with Ryan Hale was the only one of Scott's college career, but it certainly was memorable for all of us in the stands. It happened in one of the last games before the official birth of Mitch's Misfits (Winter Carnival 2004). We were in our infancy and other than the amazing comeback win against Northern Michigan in October 2003, the fight may have been one of the biggest catalysts to keep us engaged that season. 

One other major suspension occurred while John was at Michigan Tech, his drunk driving incident cost him the first 14 games of his senior year. His return came on December 2, 2005 at home to North Dakota. Mitch's Misfits made it a point to show their support for the big man with body paint spelling out "WE (heart) SCOTT" thanks to 8 volunteers. We have always had a soft spot for the big man in Houghton.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Drake May (the second "T")

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Drake May (the second "T")

After his time at Tech, we continued to follow him as his career progressed. One of our first real objectives at Tech Hockey Guide was to keep fans informed on recruits and alumni. That meant tracking John Scott and his former teammates as they tried to navigate their way through the ECHL and AHL to get their shot at the big show. I personally was thrilled to see Scott end up in the Wild organization, because it meant when he got called up some of his games would be right in my backyard. That's exactly what happened on January 3, 2009 against the Detroit Red Wings. One big-time Husky fan just happened to be there as this was one of the few times her NHL team was in St. Paul.

I was new to Minnesota and the Red Wings were in town playing the Wild. Right before I walked out the door to the X, I received word that John would be playing his first NHL game for the Wild that night. So I had to make a sign for him! It said something like, “Go Big John Scott!” During warmups, I went down to ice level and held it up... hopefully able to embarrass him. He saw it and seemed pretty amused. When he skated by, he tapped the glass with his stick and had a smile on his face.
— Bethlyn Cummings, Mitch's Misfits Founding Member
Bethlyn managed to dig up a photo of that sign. I guess it wasn't quite as she remembered.

Bethlyn managed to dig up a photo of that sign. I guess it wasn't quite as she remembered.

That wasn't the only game that Bethlyn attended. She, Dustin Lindstrom and I all went to the last home game of the year together. We all get dressed up in our Tech jerseys and headed to the X. We got there early and went down to ice level much like Bethlyn did the first time. It was a blast getting his attention and seeing a huge grin on his face that day. They even gave away game worn jerseys of most of the players to lucky fans throughout the arena. I wanted John Scott's jersey badly that I went down the seat of the guy that had won and offered him quite a large sum of money on the spot to acquire the jersey but he wouldn't do it, Scott had already become a fan favorite for his physical play and fighting. During the 2009-10 season, the Wild had wrapped some of the support columns in players images. We managed to find the column decorated with John Scott's mug and had a blast taking pictures.

23608_559571841447_444150_n.jpg

John went on to have a pretty lengthy career considering his point total and transition to forward. One of the last moments of great interaction was the inaugural Desert Hockey Classic. Since it was hosted by Arizona State and just happened to be held at the Arizona Coyotes' arena, it only made sense for Scott to be there as we was still with the Coyotes. It was an amazing experience to run into him one more time and get to celebrate him getting to go to the All-Star Game and catch up on old times. He instantly remembered me and chatted with me about how crazy his season had been with the fan vote. Bethlyn had her own experience:

This past January, John was wandering around in Phoenix at the MTU Alumni Association event. I went to go say hi. When he saw me, he gave me the biggest hug, like only John can. Our hugs are goofy because my head is about at his belly button level. We talked for quite a while and got each other caught up with happenings in our lives since it had been so long. That’s when I learned that Danielle was due with twins very soon. Wow!
— Bethlyn Cummings, Mitch's Misfits Founding Member

Our final stop on revisiting moments with John Scott is kind of the culmination of it all when earlier this season, John was brought back to Houghton and recognized by the team with his own "John Scott Weekend." The current president of Mitch's Misfits, Matt Cavender, shared his thoughts on the whole John Scott All-Star Game/Weekend experience for him while still a student at Michigan Tech.

He watched the game with Graeme Blakely, the current treasurer of the Misfits, in the basement of DHH. His eyes were absolutely glued to that screen like his life depended on it. He knew, like most of us, that what he was witnessing was one of the most unique pieces of sports history, one of the greatest underdog stories that had ever unfolded. As the game went on Scott got his first goal. Like many of us, he lost it so hard you’d have thought it was Tech winning their first national championship since 1975.

Seeing everybody have his back the entire weekend, watching him score those two goals, and seeing him grab that comically-sized check from Gary Bettman was a surreal experience that would give anyone goosebumps from beginning to end. It was a very proud moment for Matt and Husky Nation. Matt went on to write several final papers about John, how he got in his situation, what he meant to Matt, and why he is a hero. Then came the moment during John Scott Weekend, when Matt got to meet his hero:

During “John Scott Weekend” at Tech, I finally got to meet John. I was performing in the Pep Band concert, walking through the Rosza, and boom. There was John, Danielle and the girls in the middle of the hallway. I froze. What do you say to your hero? I was shocked at what I was able to say to him given my state of mind at the time.

“Mr. Scott, I must admit, it is a surreal moment in my life to meet you.”

He smiled at me, laughed and extended his hand for a handshake. I was able to tell him how much he meant to me and how incredible I think not only he is for taking the entire situation on with such grace and class, but also Danielle for going through all of it while being nine months pregnant.

A lot of people have terrible stories from when they meet their heroes, but not I. John Scott is an incredible guy and each time I was able to talk to him throughout the weekend, he was nothing short of an incredible man. He took time to answer my questions and he addressed me like I was on the same level as him, which I can assure you is far from the truth.
— Matt Cavender, Mitch's Misfits President

That pep band concert was a source of another story during "John Scott Weekend." This time, from the perspective of Patrick Koro, president of the Huskies Pep Band. The story begins a few weeks before the Huskies Pep Band concert with an idea, a far reaching but very exciting idea to bring in John Scott for the concert’s interview portion. The band idolizes him, and he was coming up for the hockey series the next day anyway, what could possibly be better? It was his response that sealed the deal, that he himself was huge fan of the Pep Band and was looking forward to the chance to meet the band, maybe even more excited than the band was to meet him. And so it was agreed that John would come on stage for an interview with the Pep Band and Patrick would be conducting the interview for that segment.

During the concert’s intermission is when I and many other pep banders met John along with his wife and daughters, too. Meeting John there back stage with his family was something else; he is very much a family man, extremely proud of his daughters and all the while very humble. I could tell he was genuinely excited about the chance to be on stage with the band.

Come to the interview, John answered the band’s collection of, let’s call them “strange” questions and about his experiences from the all-star game. The entire time, he was enjoying his experience and even invited his daughters out on stage to be with him. This, again, cementing this image of a wonderful family man and humble man at heart. His stories of his time in the NHL and even his time at Tech pointing to how blessed he has felt for the opportunities he’s been granted. The next day, talking with him after the interview, he highlighted it as a really fun time spent with the pep band. He still had that big goofy grin on his face remembering the experience.
— Patrick Koro, Huskies Pep Band President

While has had his ups and downs throughout his hockey career, Michigan Tech fans have always loved John for his attitude on and off the ice. We are proud to have him as part of Husky Nation. Our experiences with him over the years have been nothing short of wonderful. He will always be one of our favorite alumni and we're glad he was ultimately given the chance to participate in last year's NHL All-Star Game.

All photos courtesy Bethlyn Cummings.