Hockey fans will likely be glued to the television tonight, as the Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. And whether or not you’re a hockey fan, you’ll want to hear this fascinating conversation that Cale Clarke recently had with former NHL player John Scott.
John spent a decade playing in the NHL, was the MVP of the 2016 All-Star Game, wrote a book about his unusual journey to that All-Star Game, and his book will soon be made into a movie! He’s also a husband, a father of six daughters, and a Catholic. He stopped by The Cale Clarke Show recently to discuss the importance of being a role model, and how he’s gone from fighting on the ice to fighting for the faith.
For those who aren’t familiar with his Cinderella story, John recounted the unusual journey that led him to the 2016 All-Star Game, and why it was so unlikely that he would end up even being in the game, much less being named the Most Valuable Player.
John was known as a fighter on the ice, and he explained that the All-Star Game was traditionally an exhibition of speed, agility, and skill with the puck. Those weren’t his greatest attributes, so it was unlikely that he would be on the team. But that year the NHL had a fan vote, where the fans could vote in players, and the player with the most votes would be named a captain. Some podcasters in Toronto thought it would be funny if John Scott was voted in.
“Like things do nowadays, it gained momentum on social media and kind of became this thing,” John recalled. “And I got millions and millions of votes and got more votes than anybody by a substantial amount. The NHL didn’t like that. So they did everything in their power to get me to not play. They offered me vacations, money, and this and that. And I turned it down.”
“There was real negativity to it,” he shared. “They challenged my manhood, challenged my role as a father. They were really just questioning my morals. It was very personal, and at that time I was really starting to grow into my faith. My wife was really instrumental in me going to the game.”
Because John refused to not play, the NHL traded him and even demoted him to the minor league. But still, John persisted.
“I eventually went, I was named the MVP, and we won the All-Star Game. And now it’s being made into a motion picture, so it worked out great,” he said.
Growing up, John was not raised in any faith tradition. But his wife is Catholic, and John entered the Catholic Church himself in 2017. He shared that the culture of professional hockey can be difficult to navigate for someone striving to live a holy life.
“It was hard,” John admitted. “Because when you go out on the road and you’re with your teammates, these guys are making decisions that aren’t necessarily good. Most of the time it’s not good decisions. You go out to eat with them at a restaurant and then most of them go out to the bar afterward or to the club. And I have to go home.”
“That’s a tough decision to have to say I’m going to pull back and step away from my teammates because I don’t agree with what they’re doing,” he said. “I don’t outright say that, but that’s what I think. It was tough and that’s where my faith came in. Even though I wasn’t baptized at that time, I just knew it wasn’t right. My faith really did help me. It’s such a strong aid to you. When you get in a difficult position, you can lean on that to guide you through.”
John shared that he is working to change that culture through his work with Varsity Catholic and the Catholic Athletes for Christ, to expand their presence in the NHL.
“I’m hoping to work through the collegiate ranks and tell these kids that it’s OK to be faithful,” he told Cale. “And I think kids these days have a misconception of what it means to be a man and what it means to be macho. I just want to change their perception. A man is someone who treats a woman right, a man is someone who is chaste, a man is someone who is responsible. I think it’s important for people like me who are role models to these young kids to step up and tell them what a real man looks like.”
Though John was known as a fighter on the ice, he now hosts a podcast, The Fight That Matters, where he and his co-host John Aiken discuss life as Catholic men, navigating the only fight that really matters. He shared with Cale how important it is to fight for the faith – and that sometimes that fight is against your own doubts, apathy, and insecurity.
“I think it’s really, really important for men to stand up and lead our families,” John said. “I just did the consecration to St. Joseph and there are so many tidbits in there about how to be a man and lead your family. Don’t be afraid to stand up and say, ‘We’re praying a Rosary’ or ‘We’re going to church.’ That’s lacking in today’s society. I feel like the wives and these women are just holding up these men. Whereas it should be the other way around.”
“Even in my household, my wife does so much and sometimes I just have to shake myself and say, ‘You’re the man, let’s go. Lead this family,'” he acknowledged. “So it’s really important for men to step out and say those things. It’s imperative for our culture and our Church. Because we need that man to lead us.”
Listen to the full conversation with John Scott, and find more great conversations on culture through a Catholic lens by tuning in to The Cale Clarke Show, weekdays at 5:00 p.m. Central on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.