The world is a wash in conspiracy theories. When a particular “world” event occurs, two things typically happen. First, we recognize the event itself. For example, Princess Diana died tragically in a car accident in 1997 and we learn the circumstances of the way in which that event came about in journalistic fashion: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Second, in the aftermath, we ask the question, who stands to benefit from this tragedy? Who or whom is better off in this world without Princess Diana in it? And in this respect, there is a wide-ranging list of world events that we label “conspiracy theories” and no amount of evidence to the contrary can erase our suspicions of those who benefit from them.
Did Neil Armstrong walk on the moon on July 19th, 1969? Is the world really getting warmer? And if so, why? Is Big Brother watching you? Is the answer to John Lennon’s death really within The Catcher in the Rye? JFK? 9/11? What’s with the fluoridation of our drinking water? Flying Saucers? The Masons? Secret Societies? The labyrinth of conspiracy theories is endless.
The National Hockey League is not immune to conspiracy theories and there are actually many to go whet the appetite. Again, the same principle applies with respect to “world” events, except we’re talking hockey here. You take an NHL event, a transaction, a trade or a ruling that just doesn’t make logical sense, you delve beneath the surface of the event and ask, “Who benefits?” In this respect hockey is no different than other professional sports like: boxing, baseball, horseracing, basketball, or any other sport. The NHL is, at its core, a highly competitive business. The profit motive, winning, the unwillingness to concede error, and the compromising of honestly (giving way to the appearance of dishonesty and prompting speculation), all play a role in forming what hockey fans see as “conspiracies.” True, or not true (and the reader can be the judge), these are The Top 15 Crazy Conspiracies in Hockey History.
15 15. Ottawa Silver Seven Salts the Ice in 1904 Stanley Cup
14 14. The Miracle on Ice
13 13. The U.S. vs. Russia in Sochi 2014
12 12. Todd Bertuzzi a Scapegoat?
“Colonel Jessep, did you order the Code Red?”
“You’re Goddamn right I did!”
11 11. Dale Hawerchuk “No Call” in the 1987 Canada Cup
10 10. The Player is a “Player”
9 9. Brett Hull’s Stanley Cup Winner in 1999
8 8. Penguins Tank Season in 1983-84 for Lemieux
7 7. The 2005 NHL Draft Lottery
6 6. Rocket Richard Riots
5 5. The NHL vs. The Vancouver Canucks
4 4. The Gretzky Rule
3 3. Gretzky Trade to Los Angeles in 1988
2 2. Gretzky High Stick in the 1993 Conference Finals
1 1. #FreeJohnScott
What began as a joke in Arizona, the fan-voting of John Scott as an NHL All-Star, quickly developed into one of the NHL’s greatest feel good stories in recent memory, then the story took a spiteful turn into one of the most transparent conspiracies in NHL history, and now appears to be culminating in a Disney-like narrative for John Scott and his family. As it’s been well documented, the NHL (in an effort to generate fan interest) gave the fans a say in who gets to be a 2016 NHL All-Star and the fans said “John Scott!” After attempts by Arizona management and the NHL to discourage Scott from participating in the All-Star game failed, he was then traded as baggage to the Montreal Canadiens and sent promptly to the minors. Next, #FreeJohnScott exploded on Twitter, Coach’s Corner weighed in, Bob McKenzie hinted at conspiracy and transparency on TSN, fans were outraged, and throughout all of that, John Scott remained a class act. Today, the NHL, unless it has something else up its sleeve, has agreed to uphold the fan-vote and allow John Scott to take his family to Nashville and participate in the All-Star game. In fact, John Scott deserves a “can you please come?” from the NHL for the way he was treated - he is, after all, the only reason anyone is talking about the NHL All-Star game, which has been historically uneventful.
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