NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- And so an All-Star odyssey that began with the chaos of John Scott being thrust unwittingly into the process, somehow, improbably, ended up with Scott tying it all neatly together with a shiny bow, being hoisted onto his teammates' shoulders and being named All-Star Game MVP as a write-in candidate.
Later, in the winning dressing room, Scott's helmet was collected by the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Really, you can't make this stuff up.
"It still hasn't sunk in that I'm the MVP of the game," Scott told ESPN's Linda Cohn after the game. "It was definitely a whirlwind. I'm enjoying every minute of it, though."
Scott added that the entire week has "been like a dream, almost. You can't really write this stuff. To be able to come to the game first of all and then meet all the guys, and have them kind of accept me, and then have the warm embrace by the fans. And then to go out there and win the tournament and to be named MVP. ... It's, just, crazy."
The tough guy who had never played 3-on-3 at the NHL level -- aside from skating with the coaches -- and who had scored a total of five goals in his career was voted into the event by fans as a kind of prank. But Scott captained the Pacific Division into the championship game of the first-ever 3-on-3 tournament format at the All-Star Game by scoring twice in the team's surprising 9-6 win over a stacked Central Division team. The Pacific edged the Atlantic 1-0 in the final game, winning $1 million.
As captain, it was Scott who appeared at center ice to receive the symbolic oversized check from commissioner Gary Bettman.
"He said, 'I'm proud of you,'" Scott said. "He said, 'That was quite the story. Quite the game.'"
Scott, he of the 542 career penalty minutes, didn't just score twice in the win over the Central. As though to remind everyone of his pedigree, Scott also playfully toppled NHL scoring leader Patrick Kane, after which Kane dropped the gloves with the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Scott in a mock bout.
"I don't know if he was expecting me to drop 'em with him," Kane said after.
"It was a fun little moment. Johnny played good. Johnny had a good game out there," said Kane, who admitted he was a bit shocked that Scott leaned into him in the neutral zone.
"That was unexpected," Kane said with a laugh. "I don't know if I expected too much hitting in the All-Star Game, let alone 3-on-3 in the All-Star Game. He caught me off guard pretty good there."
Scott, 33, said he wasn't initially trying to hit his former teammate from the Chicago Blackhawks, but when a collision seemed unavoidable, he decided to follow through on the 177-pound Kane.
"He came right after me," Scott said. "He said, 'Let's go.'"
Regardless of how you felt about the Scott situation to begin with -- whether he should have come to Nashville or bowed out -- when he decided to ignore the pleas of the league to stay away and participate in All-Star Weekend, Scott became a focal point.
And if people expected him to be embarrassed in the 3-on-3 sessions, they were wrong.
In fact, it was very much the opposite, as he became a kind of folk hero, embraced by fans and teammates alike.
"I mean, it's great for him and his family," Kane said. "And I think he's done a great job this whole weekend with kind of the way he's brought himself upon the media and even just in the locker room with the guys, the way he's handled himself has been awesome. And he played well out there too, so I guess that's a cherry on top."
"I just talked to him and let him know that I've never seen a guy shoot top shelf, far side before on a breakaway," Seguin said. "Let him know that takes a lot of skill and I was really impressed."
When Scott's name did not appear on the big screen among the MVP voting options for fans, the sold-out Bridgestone Arena crowd began chanting for Scott and apparently voted in droves.
On the Pacific Division bench, Scott joked with teammates that if they won the award, he really needed the new SUV that came with the award more than they did. Scott's wife, Danielle, is expecting twins any day. In the end, he didn't need anyone's charity. He earned the MVP nod by playing the game he has been playing for years, the same game that Kane and Seguin and his Pacific Division teammates play.
He might not play it the same way. And he might play it in a fashion that is quickly becoming obsolete in the NHL. But he is a hockey player.
"Hockey is definitely not an individual sport," Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "Every single player on a team matters in some way. Some only play four minutes and some play 30 minutes. No matter how many you play, every single second you're on that ice, it matters.
"Obviously, John is effective in different ways than say a player like me, but everyone matters just as much."
As for the MVP award, Doughty said there was no doubt whom his teammates wanted to win the award.
"Everyone wanted him to win it and everyone is so happy for him," Doughty said.
"I was nervous," Scott said. "Scared. I'm not a very light guy. Especially Burnsy. He's such a spaz."
Scott, who was traded by the Arizona Coyotes to the Montreal Canadiens after the controversial All-Star vote and then immediately sent to the Canadiens' American Hockey League team in St. John's, Newfoundland, will get a few more days' rest as the AHL is also entering its All-Star break.
But he wonders if his experience through all of this has maybe opened people's eyes about his value as an NHLer, something he's still convinced he can be. Beyond that, maybe this is the kind of thing that serendipitously opens some other kind of door within the game.
After all, the only thing we know for sure at the end of the strange John Scott saga is that anything is possible.
Anything at all.