2016 Michigan Tech Magazine: Issue 1

Heart of a Husky

By Shannon Rinkinen

Fresh off his whirlwind season, NHL All-Star MVP John Scott drops his now-famous gloves to talk to his alma mater.

Precise. Meticulous. Intelligent. That's a mechanical engineer.

Goofy toothless goon (his words—not ours) ready for a scrum. A haymaker. Or an old-fashioned donnybrook. That's NHL enforcer and Michigan Tech mechanical engineering alumnus John Scott.

Tenacious, we say.

It took a guy like John to put Michigan Tech on a stage it seldom sees. Because his story—one he never intended to write—started here.

"I was satisfied with a college scholarship. That's why I was playing hockey," John says. Like a lot of Huskies, he didn't come from privilege. "I'm a blue-collar Canadian. My dad worked in construction out of grade 10 and my mom quit school after grade 11." In college, John had no professional hockey ambitions. That was until he met former Huskies Hockey Assistant Coach Ian Kallay. "He said, 'You can do this. You can make a career out of this. If you put in the work, put in the hours.' It was a huge moment for me," John recalls.

Going Pro

Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames (left) and Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks (right) celebrate John's 2016 NHL All-Star Game MVP award after his two-goal performance.
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames (left) and Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks (right) celebrate John's 2016 NHL All-Star Game MVP award after his two-goal performance.

John and Ian spent hours training together. "We went in early and worked on first pass, foot drills for speed, puck handling . . . basic stuff. We had a routine John did in the morning and again after practice. He wanted to get better—he saw the vision," Ian says. At 6-foot-8, 268 pounds, John had all the tools. The reach. Good hands. He just needed confidence. "He had a lot of things other players didn't, plus a mean streak that would serve him well at the professional level. I see him on TV now and everyone likes him. He's always been that way. Smart. Witty. A good guy to have on your side," Ian says.

Six teams, eight seasons. John Scott got into the NHL because of hard work—hustling. It's not unlike Tech's 1,762 ME majors. Engineering sense helps, sure, but it's time in the books, in the lab, that count.

The Hard Way

"Tech is not an easy school . . . the academics or just walking to class." John says, recalling how the north winds whipped as he lumbered to his least favorite class—chemistry.

Rigorous courses combined with 10-hour bus rides for hockey made graduating on time impossible. By the time John contracted with the Minnesota Wild, he still wasn't a college graduate. "I went back and took classes two summers in a row. I wasn't going to waste four years for nothing."

John Scott sported Black and Gold from 2002 to 2006.
John Scott sported Black and Gold from 2002 to 2006.

John Scott graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Tech in 2010.

How does his degree impact his game? "It definitely helps me pass a puck. I'm better than most at figuring out a bank pass off the boards. And most guys sharpen their skates to one-half of an inch. But I know how to increase—or not increase—my bore," he says.

Hockey fans the world over know about the season John had. What started as a light-hearted online vote spiraled into a new reality for John, bouncing from All-Star contender, to the American Hockey League's IceCaps, and back to the big game for two goals and a share of the $1 million prize.

John Scott, All-Star Game captain and MVP, became the feel-good sports story in the nation.

Unfiltered and unapologetic, he's adjusting to slapshots in the spotlight. "I posted a beer on Instagram the night of the All-Star game . . . it didn't go over so well. I have to watch what goes out to the world now. It's easy to misconstrue context." And it's true, he says: a movie about him and his gypsy life in the NHL is in the works. Written and produced by Mitch Albom, the story will take audiences back to John's former stomping grounds.

"Houghton will be a big part of the movie because it's a big part of what made me." Who will play our humble former Husky? "I don't know yet. Liev Schreiber? I'm not exactly a polished guy."

Still 906

John Scott wore number 20 for the Hockey Huskies.
John Scott wore number 20 for the Hockey Huskies.

Ambo 'za. Trips north to the Harbor. And puck with teammates and friends-to-this-day Chris Conner, Cam Ellsworth, and John Hartman. For John, Copper Country means carefree. Friends. Freedom. "Houghton is a small town, so I got a chance to not only have fun, but to focus. It's a school first and everyone in the community wants you to do well," John says.

He and wife Danielle, herself a 2006 biomedical engineering grad, bring their growing family back to campus often. "We visited last summer. The bronze Husky statue wasn't around when we were in school. It's cool students have something to latch onto, like 'Big Green' or U of M."

Look John up today and you'll still dial 906. "The number hasn't changed. Some of the best days of my life were spent up there," he says. John hasn't changed much either. He knows he has more work to do. "I'm only 33. I'd like to play a few more years, hopefully in the NHL. I thought I'd go into engineering after all this, but what happened this winter has opened so many more doors . . . broadcasting, management. It's exciting. You never know what's in the future."

All in the Husky Family

Alumna Danielle Scott stepped away from her role with leading biomed company Boston Scientific to care for the couple's now four kids—Eva, 4, Gabriella, 2, and four-month-old twins Sofia and Estelle. In her (rare) downtime, she designs children's clothing for her line Light in Me.

John and Danielle Scott enjoy a little down time with their four daughters at their home in Traverse City, Michigan.
John and Danielle Scott enjoy a little down time with their four daughters at their home in Traverse City, Michigan.

Future Huskies?

Will any of the Scott girls follow in their engineering-parents' footsteps? "My oldest definitely thinks like an engineer. She's always asking very inquisitive questions and trying to figure out how to make things work better," John says.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries around the world. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our beautiful campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.