Former NHL enforcer John Scott managed to escape a horrifying, near-death incident on a lake behind his home in Traverse City, Michigan over the weekend.
As the 36-year-old prepared to clear some snow off the lake to make a backyard skating rink for him and his family Sunday, the icy surface gave way and Scott plunged into the freezing water below. Luckily, he fell through right next to his dock and was eventually able to pull himself out of the lake, though not without a significant struggle.
Scott recounted that struggle in an interview with The Athletic's Chris Kuc.
"I couldn't get up on my dock the first three or four attempts because I was soaking wet — I was just drenched," Scott said. "I was like, 'OK, do I scream for the ice fisherman but how is he going to get me?' My kids were playing up at the house and they weren't going to hear me screaming with the noise up there.
"I tried to hoist myself up but I couldn't do it and there was no way I could get to a part where I could walk up because at the end of my dock it's probably 20 feet deep and I couldn't get around to where the beach starts, so I was like, 'either I get up on the dock or I don't get up at all.' I managed to find a somewhat solid piece of ice to put my foot up on and kind of hoist myself up luckily."
Scott estimates that he was in the frigid water for around a minute as one of his shoes and a shovel sunk to the depths of the lake.
After pulling himself out of the water, Scott had to gather himself and regroup with his family. That's when he realized how lucky he'd gotten.
"I didn't want to scare my kids or my wife but when they saw me and started saying, 'oh, my gosh what happened?' then you kind of realize, what happened if?," said Scott. "They were going to help me shovel but I just got a head start. I would have been dead when they got there, you know? It's scary to think of that."
He later shared a video of the spot where he'd fallen through.
Though he feels lucky to be alive, Scott says he'll probably skip lake hockey this year.
"We're going to maybe take this winter off," he said. "We'll go to the local rink for our open skates. That was enough to scare me away for this winter."
At 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds, Scott was one of the most intimidating and fearsome enforcers in the NHL during his eight-year pro career. He bounced around the league with seven different organizations prior to his retirement in 2016, and he was most known for his toughness and ability to punch people in the face rather than his production on a scoresheet. (He had just 11 career points in 286 NHL games.)
However, he became somewhat of a league darling when he was voted into the All-Star Game by fans in 2016. He scored several times and went on to earn game MVP honors in addition to taking home a share of the $1,000,000 prize awarded to the winning team.