Earlier this year, several NHL coaches were defending Buffalo Sabres coach Ron Rolston when he was fined in the preseason for sending enforcer John Scott to the ice to face the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ skill line. The resulting move started a rink wide riot and saw suspensions aplenty.
Those same coaches probably aren’t feeling as sympathetic for Rolston today. Days after it was announced that Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta was suspended ten games for an illegal head shot to Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets, his top goon Scott was at it again. During last night’s game with the Boston Bruins, Scott threw out a head shot of his own against Bruins forward Loui Eriksson. He was ejected from the game as a result.
First things first; Scott should be gone. For good. He serves absolutely zero purpose in the league. Since coming into the league in 2009 with the Minnesota Wild, he has less points than there are days in the week. He benefits nobody when he is on the ice, and certainly can’t change the game via offense or defense. His sole reasoning for being employed by the league is to do exactly what he did last night. He’s sent to the ice to try and make an impact by hurting someone. He did it against Phil Kessel and the Leafs in September, and he did it again last night. There will never be a hockey team at any professional level that will find themselves saying, “this game was looking rough, but then John Scott made a great impact play that lead to a win.” The league needs to show their awareness of this and send him packing.
Scott has since been suspended “indefinitely” by the NHL. That’s now two Sabres who are serving time for gutless hits. No worries, Buffalo, you still have captain Steve Ott. Albeit more offensively talented than Scott — a low bar to cross — he has a history of incidents himself.
Which makes one wonder; is it time to hold Rolston accountable for any of this? The coach lost Kaleta to suspension, then gave Scott playing time, which he immediately lost due to his disgusting actions from last night. Is Rolston asking for trouble with the league?
Let’s be honest; down two goals to Boston last night, Scott was not put on the ice to try and rally the team with a lead-trimming goal (he has zero goals in his NHL career, by the way). He wasn’t sent into the game because Boston was picking on various Sabres. He offers zero upside to the team unless its to try and injure an opponent. His reputation around the league is that of a cheap-shot artist, and he bolstered that last night.
The Sabres are a hot mess at the moment. One win in eleven games, trade rumors abound regarding goalie Ryan Miller and star Thomas Vanek and now their second suspension in a matter of weeks. If Rolston was trying to give his team a jolt of energy, it sure came across like his way of doing so was sending Scott to punish the opponent.
As mentioned, the league has already fined Rolston for just such an occasion. The Leafs Sabres game had already reached brawl status when the coach had Scott take the ice, who promptly picked a fight with Kessel, hardly a fair opponent. Why is this incident much different? Boston and Buffalo have a heated history, the Bruins just took a two goal lead, Scott takes the ice and Eriksson ends up leaving the game thanks to a brutal head shot.
Kaleta received a heavy suspension partly due to the fact that he was a repeat offender. By that logic, and with Rolston already receiving a fine last month, its time for the league to consider taking repeat offenses into consideration with coaches, too.